My photo
The idea behind this blog is to share my opinions about Post-Apocalyptic Literature, Films and Ephemera as well as my random nattering on a regular basis.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Night Work in Review

Have you entered my giveaway yet? Do it, now ... here

Finished Night Work by Thomas Glavinic. At 375 pages it is a bit long and in places got a bit redundant. The premise of the book is that Jonas awakens on July 4th and he is entirely, suddenly, inexplicably alone. The TV shows only snow the radio broadcasts only static. He doesn't think anything is amiss at first and goes to catch the buss to work as normal. It's only when the bus never comes that he realizes that something is terribly wrong.

It's not just that the radio and television is off but there are no people. And not only are there no people there are no animals or insects. Nothing. Only him.

Even though he's alone he feels that he is being watched. So he hatches the plan to get video cameras and film himself sleeping and driving. As the book goes towards the one third mark he is pretty much setting up video cameras and watching the tapes he has made. Tapes that don't show much.

This was a great book, very strange and definitely a 'literature' type book. In other words if it were to show up on the required reading list for a collage course I wouldn't be a bit surprised. I have read a couple books like it and seen movies that were similar. As for the similar book. First has to be The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel (One Planet One Inhabitant: Mass Extermination as Progress). I was never able to finish The Purple Cloud. It got so wordy that I just couldn't hack my way through the lush junglelike sentence structure of the novel. The Purple Cloud is a last man story for sure. But instead of going nuts and filming himself Adam Jeffson simply decides he the King of the World and then promptly goes what can only be described as bat-shit-crazy. Adam (play on the first man pastiche) goes on a World Pyromania Tour. He visits Paris, London, Los Angeles and puts them all to the torch.

I do give kudos to The Purple Cloud for actually having the testicular fortitude to make it a true last man novel. Some authors make you think they are going to but then pull the rug out from under you. Two examples are The Vanished by John Peel and Alone by George Washington Paulin III. The Vanished was an ok book but Alone was terrible. I only mention it because both Alone and Night Work started the same way. Night Work pulled off the concept and Alone failed.
If I had to really nail down what I was most reminded of as I read Night Work I'd have to say it was the film 'The Quiet Earth'. Zack Hobson acted much like Jonas. He goes a bit nuts and has conversations where the only participants are himself.

I enjoyed a couple other aspects of Night Work that weren't apocalyptic. The first was his concept of self. I don't know about anyone else, but I always think about how my little kid self would think about where my today self is in life. Or my teenaged self. I have a picture of myself as a two year old and sometimes I think about all that has happened to the kid in the picture and how that poor bastard has no idea what is in store for him. I guess I just hadn't thought about anyone else thinking about their 'yesterday self' or their 'tomorrow self'. Also I've never attempted to communicate or pass messages to myself as they would exist at different times.

Also like Jonas, when I was younger I'd sometimes think about inanimate object and wonder what they might think about. Did rocks at the beach communicate with other rocks nearby? Did they mourn the loss of a companion if I picked one up and threw it the ocean? If I kicked a rock in storm drain would feel sad that it'd probably never feel the sun again? Separation is a key theme in Night Work.

It's a quirky sort of novel, PA of a sort that I've never seen before. Stayed in mind long after I'd finished. Glad I took the time though.

No comments: