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Blueprints of the Afterlifeby Ryan Boudinot
Synopses & Reviews
From the "wickedly talented" (Boston Globe) and "darkly funny" (New York Times Book Review) Ryan Boudinot, Blueprints of the Afterlife is a tour de force.
It is the Afterlife. The end of the world is a distant, distorted memory called the Age of F***ed Up Shit.” A sentient glacier has wiped out most of North America. Medical care is supplied by open-source nanotechnology, and human nervous systems can be hacked.
Abby Fogg is a film archivist with a niggling feeling that her life is not really her own. She may be right. Al Skinner is a former mercenary for the Boeing Army, whos been dragging his war baggage behind him for nearly a century. Woo-jin Kan is a virtuoso dishwasher with the Hotel and Restaurant Management Olympics medals to prove it. Over them all hovers a mysterious man named Dirk Bickle, who sends all these characters to a full-scale replica of Manhattan under construction in Puget Sound. An ambitious novel that writes large the hopes and anxieties of our time — climate change, social strife, the depersonalization of the digital age — Blueprints of the Afterlife will establish Ryan Boudinot as an exceptional novelist of great daring.
"Boudinot's ingenious second novel (after Misconception) takes readers on a frenzied, hilarious, and paranoid trip through a hypernetworked near future. The story takes place after an apocalypse known as the FUS, or 'the age of Fucked Up Shit' (which includes a monstrous war between humans and androids called 'newmans,' fought by branded armies such as Pfizer and Boeing using weaponry made by Nike, Coca-Cola, and other companies). The story unfolds from the perspective of characters for whom post-FUS reality is, at best, in flux. They hallucinate. They encounter a giant celestial head and extraterrestrials who alter the already unmanageable courses of their lives. They're genetically engineered and can erase troubling memories, but can't escape feeling troubled. Implants allow a biological Internet (Bionet) to provide medical care remotely, wirelessly downloading 'hormones, enzymes, and antigens' directly into the body. This also opens the door to radical hacking by 'DJs' who, when they grow tired of their victims, can leave them on autopilot, sometimes dooming them to compulsively watch reality television as sadistic as its present-day incarnation but far more surreal. On one level, the afterlife is a video game that may be, entirely or partially, the creation of a delusional computer programmer who knows that it's not a game. At times Boudinot writes with more exuberance than clarity, and some questions or threads are never answered or fully explored, resulting in sloppiness that may frustrate some readers. But those who are drawn in by the wonderful Woo-jin Kan, the world's best dishwasher, won't want to put the book down until they've devoured the last line. Like replaying a game, familiarity enhances recognition of what's important, and the first chapter is worth rereading in light of what follows, if only to put into better perspective its ending call: Help me! A bracing dystopian romp through contemporary dread, extrapolated." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Ryan Boudinot is some kind of new and dangerous cross between Vonnegut and Barthelme." Dave Eggers
"Ryan Boudinot has a hell of an ear: for dialogue, for the right adverb in the perfect spot, for the joy of weird slang...scary, fresh, funny, eye-opening." Aimee Bender
"A twisted, formidable storyteller...reminiscent of early Rick Moody or the short stories of Daniel Handler." Publishers Weekly
"Crack comic timing...[K]eep your eye on Boudinot: He's on his way up." Kirkus Reviews on Misconception
"Imagine a 21st-century version of suburban scribe John Cheever writing brilliantly under the influence of hallucinogens." USA Today
"The funniest, most engaging, and original new voice I've read in a long time." Stephen Elliott, author of Looking Forward to It and Happy Baby
"You'll be certain that you love Seattle author Ryan Boudinot's style....[T]he way Boudinot chooses to snap together words into description and dialogue is where he excels." Kristin Thiel, The Oregonian
"To be sure, there's plenty of Barthelme, Bender, and Moody in Boudinot, but...there's a little bit of Butt-head, too." Dave Daley, Bookforum
"This writers wacky wisdom erupts line by line with buzzing tenderness; here, bleak is beautiful, and lucid, lovable characters jump into your arms." Maria Flook, author of Invisible Eden and Lux on Misconception
"Boudinot moves from the ordinary to the surreal with exceptional ease....Losers and innocents inhabit the world of the wickedly talented Boudinot." Boston Globe
"Boudinots prose is precise and unflowery, his sense of humor finely tuned and absurd, and his characters immediately familiar yet interesting." Time Out Chicago
"Darkly funny." Elsa Dixler, The New York Times Book Review
"A strong, tight writer with a squinting eye for detailed characterizations and their dippy, thought-bubbling imaginations." Philadelphia City Paper
About the Author
Ryan Boudinot is the author of the novel Misconception, a finalist for the PEN/USA Literary Award; and The Littlest Hitler, a Publishers Weekly Book of the Year. His work has appeared in McSweeney's, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Monkeybicycle, Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy, Opium, Hobart, Los Angeles Review, Black Book, Don't You Forget About Me: Contemporary Writers on the Films of John Hughes, Torpedo, The Lifted Brow, and other journals, magazines, and anthologies.
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