So last night I went to the launch party for Blueprints of the Afterlife by Ryan Boudinot, with whom I took a class at Richard Hugo House, attended a writers retreat last spring, whose writing I enjoy immensely and who I generally look up to for humor and level-headed writing advice. The chapter he read was “Neethan F. Jordan” (the “F.” is for Fucking — real middle name), a gas of a read. Boudinot introduced it saying the piece was “designed as the book’s guitar solo.” And so it was: an interlude midway through the novel about a jazzed and jaded movie star who seems to be a cross between Russell Brand and Sacha Baron Cohen. The whole chapter never leaves the red carpet at the premier of Jordan’s new film, “Stella Artaud: Newman Assassin, Season Four.” If the narrator (or Jordan) is to be trusted, it’s a thought-provoking series featuring wall-to-wall action, state-of-the-art effects, and more than a little tenderness. I counted about eighty-four shit-eating grins leaving last night.
The entire chapter is rife with hysterical asides, tossed-off gems, and several allusions to the societal backdrop: this is the Age of Fucked-Up Shit, or FUS, a period of post-post-apocalypse, in which Tokyo is encased in an underwater dome, New York has been rebuilt in Puget Sound (interesting fact: Bainbridge Island is apparently the exact same size as Manhattan), and people are paid by the government to lay on the sofa and grow tissue and—ahem—appendages for resale.
This is Pynchon updated and rendered in accessible language; this is a world that Philip K. Dick might have imagined if he was a pothead instead of a speed freak; this is Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy viewed through the skewed, two-headed lens of Zaphod Beeblebrox. And yet—if you’ve read The Littlest Hitler, or Misconception—this is totally Boudinot. Michiko Kakutani-like comparisons are therefore to be forgiven: we’re still learning Boudinot’s style and voice. Thankfully, here is a masterful blueprint, against which we’ll measure any and all future fucked up shit he doles out. I for one will eat it up.