Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Review - The Laughing Monsters

The second book this year is The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson (2014, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 228 pages). The dust jacket blurb calls this a "high suspense tale of kaleidoscoping loyalties in the post 9/11 world that shows one of our great novelists at the top of his game." Meh.

I have read some of Johnson's previous works and enjoyed them, but I found this to be good but not great. The story is that a Scandinavian intelligence agent (or not?) returns to west Africa to meet up with a former associate to do...I'm not sure what. There was talk of Uranium, money making schemes, marriages, visits to the Uganda-Congo interior borderlands, CIA involvement, and more...stuff.

As you can tell, this was not my favorite book, mostly, I suppose, because I am not sure what the point was. Which in fact, may have been the point - that the fragmentation of society in modern west Africa, and the resulting "every man for himself" attitude, has turned the region into an unpredictable mess. If that was the point, it made an OK but unspectacular read.

3.5 stars out of 5.

Books read this year: 2
Pages: 758
New authors: None

Best book of the year so far - still All the Light We Cannot See.

Looking ahead, I am deep into another book that is shaping up to be a fantastic read...

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