Sunday, February 4, 2007

Reviewed: Raban on Surveillance in Seattle

Perhaps it is a fitting encapsulation of early 21st century American culture. We are no longer obsessed with being sleepless, and looking for love, in Seattle. We are under surveillance. That is the theme of a new novel, Surveillance, by Jonathan Raban, reviewed today in the Los Angeles Times. (The scene for the novel really is Seattle.) Richard Edler begins his review this way:

Cross Lincoln Steffens on the Russian Revolution ("I have seen the future and it works") with Pogo ("We have met the enemy and he is us"), and you pretty much come out at Jonathan Raban's new novel. "I have met the future and it's the enemy and it's us," in other words. This is the dystopian theme of "Surveillance," a current that does not so much run beneath the fiction as flood it. The compass virtually preempts the ship, eclipsing such features of an ocean trip as sunlight on cobalt waves, storm clouds on black ones, salt air, flying fish, seasickness and the onboard affair.
"Surveillance" is a kind of summum malum of contemporary American civilization: a scouring compendium of the evils, blindnesses and vulnerabilities behind the choices that fashioned its power and prosperity and that threaten their imminent collapse.

For the rest, click here. For the book, click here.
Photo credit: click here.