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The History of America in My Lifetime

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A shredding facility employee encounters a mysterious film and becomes obsessed with finding its director.


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A shredding facility employee encounters a mysterious film and becomes obsessed with finding its director.

30 review for The History of America in My Lifetime

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Hsu

    I love narratives about obsessive information sleuthing, though I tend to think it works better in films (think Cronenberg's Videodrome, or Carpenter's Cigarette Burns). "The History of America..." is certainly a very visual novel, with the recurring variants of the mysterious symbol, descriptions of characters in transit, and other cinematic moments. On the surface, this seems to be a pretty conventional story. But the breadcrumbs pursued by the protagonist lead more often than not to dead-ends I love narratives about obsessive information sleuthing, though I tend to think it works better in films (think Cronenberg's Videodrome, or Carpenter's Cigarette Burns). "The History of America..." is certainly a very visual novel, with the recurring variants of the mysterious symbol, descriptions of characters in transit, and other cinematic moments. On the surface, this seems to be a pretty conventional story. But the breadcrumbs pursued by the protagonist lead more often than not to dead-ends, and scenes that seem to be building toward some important climatic reveal would just cut off. And the protagonist doesn't seem to care (I'm ok with that too!). The last scene is beautiful, (view spoiler)[with the car on autopilot going in circles (hide spoiler)] . So this was an enjoyable novel. Could be tightened somewhat (I say this about a lot of books), but maybe that's the point. 3.5 stars, and I'm looking forward to the author's next book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kylie

    Plot-wise, this is a linear novel with a series of events that flow into one another (things get weird, but more on this shortly). The narrator of The History of America in My Lifetime works for a shredding company, and on the way back from an "information destruction" conference sees a strange man on his flight with a pixelated face. He is freaked out, but basically tries to forget it until he attends a film screening with a friend. The "obscure" film by a foreign (or is he?) director has the p Plot-wise, this is a linear novel with a series of events that flow into one another (things get weird, but more on this shortly). The narrator of The History of America in My Lifetime works for a shredding company, and on the way back from an "information destruction" conference sees a strange man on his flight with a pixelated face. He is freaked out, but basically tries to forget it until he attends a film screening with a friend. The "obscure" film by a foreign (or is he?) director has the pixelated guy in it, which launches the narrator into a quest to locate the director. One of the book's blurbs mentions Thomas Pynchon, which makes sense, but it's a leaner and more cohesive version of this. The book has surveillance (not a spoiler, but the director's films are related to this), conspiracies, serial killers, a fixation on the Interstate Highway System, and systems, nodes, and occult "points of power" in general. Unlike in something like Gravity's Rainbow, the conspiracy *is* finally explained, or at least we get a very strong hint...or DO we? About the aforementioned weirdness, there are odd and hilarious parts, but the world itself is just a little bit "off." It could be the present day, or maybe 5 years in the future (an advanced, self-driving car does make an appearance), but there are little details that are deliberately placed to skew things, details that could be explained away as stress-induced hallucinations, etc. Big Saramago energy, big Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy (2013) energy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Miguel Centeno

    This paranoid fantasy will make you question the malleability of your own reality. A swift and engaging read, Sterritt really manages to imbue this noir nightmare for the modern surveillance age with the cinematic detachment with which his protagonists seem to be obsessed. A Good Read™

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Like Remainder by Tom McCarthy, but actually funny. Echoes of Don DeLillo in here as well, but again, less cold and dry. Couldn't stop reading. Like Remainder by Tom McCarthy, but actually funny. Echoes of Don DeLillo in here as well, but again, less cold and dry. Couldn't stop reading.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gubly

    we are currently watched, even if you put tape over your webcam, it doesnt matter, you are still being watched. That either should scare you, or arouse you, or anger you, or a fourth more terrifying option; that you don't care, complete apathy towards the shadowy figures who act as voyeurs. The History of America in my lifetime perfectly captures the feeling of being watched, not in a classic noir way, but in a way that feels completely current. I'm not describing this well, but one thing brooks we are currently watched, even if you put tape over your webcam, it doesnt matter, you are still being watched. That either should scare you, or arouse you, or anger you, or a fourth more terrifying option; that you don't care, complete apathy towards the shadowy figures who act as voyeurs. The History of America in my lifetime perfectly captures the feeling of being watched, not in a classic noir way, but in a way that feels completely current. I'm not describing this well, but one thing brooks sterritt does which I like is end a paragraph of relevant plot information with a deadpan one liner that either negates the information above or is completely irrelevant; it's a really good device, adds this ominous sense detachment.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brooks Sterritt

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Rose Nylund: [Impressed when Dorothy solved the mock murder] Dorothy, that was a real tour de France!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Dark, funny, smart: A pleasure to get lost in these pages

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kim Weaver

    Kinda weird book. Not my style

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This is a great, fun, fast but thought-provoking read. Echoes of DeLillo, Pynchon, and Kesey. Surreal and absurd but also smart and cleverly rendered. I was laughing and rereading passages throughout. A sort of warped parable about the Information Age where everyone and everything is surveilled and everyone is aware that they are being watched and filmed and monitored at all times. A timely subject refreshingly brought to life by a talented writer.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matt Graham

    This book is a must read. It’s about so much. Our constant and willing surveillance state, conspiracies including a secret underground highway, snuff films made by a secret director who controls all of snuff, unreal reality, fractured scenes and information overload. It’s about a man who works in a shredding facility, a destroyer of information who gets sucked into a conspiracy involving many people a company with surveillance abilities to track anyone big or small a secretive underground film d This book is a must read. It’s about so much. Our constant and willing surveillance state, conspiracies including a secret underground highway, snuff films made by a secret director who controls all of snuff, unreal reality, fractured scenes and information overload. It’s about a man who works in a shredding facility, a destroyer of information who gets sucked into a conspiracy involving many people a company with surveillance abilities to track anyone big or small a secretive underground film director who maybe makes all the snuff films in North America, assassins, did I mention paranoia. This is a propulsive can’t put it down read, a modern tale of capitalism, conspiracy, violence and paranoia you will not want to put it down. Read it immediately.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brendan Lenihan

    Charred

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jim Snyder

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rathin Madhu

  14. 4 out of 5

    aaron

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sonia Wilson

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrew H

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Turner

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jane Christeen

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mohammad Abubaqar

  20. 4 out of 5

    Takla Mundo

  21. 5 out of 5

    Combo Knowledge

  22. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  23. 4 out of 5

    Austin

  24. 4 out of 5

    Keith Gammon

  25. 5 out of 5

    Francis McKinney

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christina Sanchez

  27. 4 out of 5

    Olivia S.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shiv Kumar

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karan Sharma

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jordan N

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