Thursday, June 09, 2011

Pym -- Mat Johnson

Mat Johnson's Pym is a modern-dress retelling and re-examination of Edgar Allan Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. The more you know about the Poe tale, and the more criticism you've read of it, the more fun you'll have with Johnson's novel, but previous acquaintance with Poe's work isn't required.

When Chris Jaynes is fired from his professorship (in part because of his Poe obsession), things happen fast. First he obtains a manuscript that proves that Poe's narrative, is not fiction but based on truth. The next thing we know, Jaynes is off to Antarctica with an oddly assorted crew, which includes his cousin, his childhood friend, his ex-wife, her current husband, and a dog. Soon after that, the world as we know it is pretty much destroyed, they discover a lost race, and the adventures really begin.

Social satire, academic satire, and lots more. Plenty of laughs, and if you have it in for the painter of light, you'll get a lot of satisfaction from this, too. Great footnotes. When you're in the mood for something different, give this one a look.

1 comment:

George said...

I've been tempted by PYM. Now, your fine review has motivated me to order it.