An alienated high-tech project manager in Seattle tries to figure out his absurd life in Mills’ debut novel with a sci-fi twist.
Seattle oddball Maxwell Greyson is the narrator of this postmodern novel, which consists of Greyson’s text messages, emails, chat-room threads, scripted sketches, avant-garde poetry, satirical lists and dialogues. Greyson—who insists he can hear when people pronounce his name “Grayson,” with a A—evidently makes a good living working on Web design and mobile-phone gadgets; he lives in a home he had custom-built on a highway traffic island. But Greyson depicts his job and identity as a project manager as an absurd, Kafkaesque puzzle. He has a syndrome called prosopagnosia that prevents him from recognizing individual human faces, he suspects he’s getting messages from dead people, and he feels that some inborn quality dooms him to be disliked instantly by everyone he meets. Greyson has a Tyler Durden-esque friend, Sid, with whom he has discussions about quantum multiverses. Greyson and Sid promote a hoax restaurant together, solely to tease the city’s poseurs and would-be gourmands. Then Greyson finds a girl whose face he can actually remember: Ruby, his regular barista at a coffeehouse called Café Entropy. A late plot twist abruptly transforms and reboots the narrative, transforming it from a snappy story of digital-age existential angst into a somewhat creaky and familiar cyberpunk-ish sci-fi tale. Author Mills has an infectiously entertaining knack for punny wordplay and repartee that carries the story’s metaplot along. And, yes, he deploys a profusion of emoticons along the way. Mills also created no fewer than 17 tie-in websites, each based on a different chapter, to supplement and hype this book, and even used the novel’s Amazon paperback price tag as a numerical inside joke.
A witty narrative about the quirks of the Internet age, bugged by an unsatisfying denouement.