Johnny America


Book Re­view: Tabloid Na­tion by John Schasny


John Schasny’s Tabloid Na­tion is a pe­cu­liar and some­times very fun­ny lit­tle novel­la that’s prob­a­bly best read in a sin­gle sit­ting — it’s just the right size for beach read­ing or a re­gion­al train jour­ney — but be­cause I fre­quent­ly lost pa­tience with the nar­ra­tor, I in­stead read it in ten and fif­teen minute in­stall­ments over the course of a few months. Schasny’s nar­ra­tor finds love and loss while trav­el­ling in car­a­van of what the back-cov­er-blurb de­scribes as “pop cul­ture gyp­sies and ex­cite­ment-weird­ness junkies.” The en­sem­ble sur­round­ing the nar­ra­tor in­cludes, among oth­ers, bik­ers, cronies, web-ob­sessed Recre­ation­al Ve­hi­cle res­i­dents, an amorous in­ter­est with a preter­nat­ur­al sense of smell, and a nympho­ma­ni­ac named Can­dy. There’s a lit­tle sex, a near-cas­tra­tion, and enough ac­tion that I kept com­ing back for more de­spite be­ing sur­pris­ing­ly put off by pas­sages of stream-of-con­scious­ness ‘po­et­ic prose’ and re­peat­ed use of the words like “jig­gy,” and “func­ti­fic­tion” — styl­is­tic man­ner­isms which, to para­phrase one of Schasny’s char­ac­ters, like mas­tur­ba­tion, if you’re not in­to it, can feel too much like work. Mis­giv­ings aside, I can guar­an­tee that you’ve nev­er read any­thing quite like Tabloid Na­tion, and it might be worth your while for that rea­son alone. Tepid­ly recommended.

Filed under Books on March 22nd, 2010

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