A double day for The Year We Finally Solved Everything. It’s the KindleBoards book of the day, and it just so happened to be reviewed on Big Al’s Books’s and Pal’s site as well.
Here’s the review:
Shan Won: It’s a country. It’s an internet rumor. It’s a hoax. It’s paradise.
The economy is crashing, the government is unstable, rebellions and wars are erupting everywhere. If there were, maybe, a place you could go, a place where They Have Solved Everything – would you try to get there? What would you offer? What would you risk? What would you leave behind you?
I mentioned to Al the other day that I was having a hard time writing this review. “This book is so good!”, I said, “I’m not sure what to write except, Everyone go read it. I’ll wait”. He suggested I might want to say something about the book, so here goes.
There’s a joke told in Canadian Literature classes: Americans tell stories about people going out and conquering the west. Canadians tell stories about people who go out to conquer the west and get stuck in Manitoba.
The Year We Finally Solved Everything is a very Canadian book. It’s ironic that I, the Canadian reviewer of this team of ‘Pals’ unknowingly selected it. And that’s perfect, because the irony doesn’t stop there. Take Richard, the narrator and protagonist of the story. Richard is a graphics designer who likes music better than pictures. He’s a pessimist who hopes to find an island paradise. He speaks when he knows he should be silent, and stays quiet when there are things he desperately wants to say. He’s complex, for all these reasons, yet in the end he’s simple: You (and he) know that given the choice, Richard will choose not to act, not to take responsibility even for himself.
Kerkovian’s writing is flawless, his dialogue exact. The book’s pace is wavelike: Richard drifts tidally between each breaking moment. All characters and events are described through his distancing eyes. He notes everything, participates in nothing. You know the characters in the book as Richard knows them, precisely, accurately, but not intimately. The tension between the action – and a lot of stuff happens – and Richard’s dissociated description of it makes for a fraught atmosphere. By the latter part of the book I was feeling physically tense as I turned pages, waiting anxiously for “the next thing” – I knew it was coming, and I had no idea at all what it might turn out to be. And readers, you’ll have no choice but to go through that tension. Trying to ‘cheat’ and turn to the last page won’t help you a bit. You’ll go through it just as I did – as Richard does – step by indeterminate step. And, when you get to the end – well, just go read the book. I’ll wait.
You needn’t be Canadian to enjoy this book by any means, but you will likely enjoy it best if you can approach it with an open-minded appreciation of the pervasiveness of irony in the world.
No Significant Issues
Rating: ***** Five stars