Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Josh reviews "Get Me Out Of Here," by Henry Sutton

It was bound to happen eventually, I had been on a string of Europa Edition books that I was loving. Then came "Get Me Out of Here," by Henry Sutton. Sutton is a talented writer, employing a stream of consciousness style of writing that certainly maintains a break-neck speed throughout his work. "Get Me Out of Here" fails on a plot and more importantly character level.  Hearkening to Bret Easton Ellis' "American Psycho," Sutton's characters never felt as fleshed out (awful term I know) as Ellis'. Sutton's Matt Freeman is no Patrick Bateman, he possesses none of the verve, life and fun that Bateman brought instead bringing only the smug, bothersome, pretentious violence of the former. I won't say it's the same for every reader, but if you're going to create a violent, crazy protagonist the readers need a chance to get to know him enough if not like him enough to get themselves vested in what happens to said protagonist.

That never happens with Matt Freeman. Not even halfway through, I began to recognize that every character we encounter that is not Matt Freeman is simply an obstacle to Matt Freeman- to be abused or be ridden of. Nothing is his fault. If you can imagine that person at a dinner party fitting the aforementioned description, then imagine yourself the only other guest at that dinner party. I was never scared of Matt; I was exasperated.  His journey over the course of the book from breaking up with his girlfriend to the climactic meeting with his brother felt like such a slog.  If it was a Europa party full of other Europas, I would be frantically making that "rescue me" motion to my date (it would be Jane Gardam, obviously). The violence felt tacked on, the story arbitrary and the motivations non-existent.  There's a less intriguing subplot about North Korea and Matt wanting to do business with them, and a more intriguing one about Matt's back-story (which we sadly get few concrete details about). In fact, we get sadly few details about much of what actually happens in the book, we only get to see the consequences. And sure, I get it, it's maybe an allegory for the financial crash in 2008. The results of the crash were very clear, but did average citizens really find out the reasons behind the crash in the first place? If that's the point, I can't decide whether Sutton was ham-handed or too subtle.

"Get Me Out Of Here" I believe is the first book from Europa that I would not recommend to friends. There are positives-the style, the depictions of London public transport that as a city dweller myself I understood completely, the takedown of the artificiality of the upper class-but the pieces never came together for me. But, good news! Things are looking up...well, after my review of "Back to Delphi," by Ioanna Karystiani they are. I'm knee deep in "Mapuche," by Caryl Ferey and fitting the slim "The Frost on His Shoulders," by Lorenzo Mediano in on the side. The latter two are simply fantastic. "Get Me Out Of Here" is my eighth Europa this year.