Part dystopian satire, part romance, this book made me laugh out loud.
By Ryan McGreal
Published January 24, 2007
Kevin Somers, I'm Gretzky, You're Gretzky, self-published, 2006
Following Fred Eaglesmith's advice over beers to 'screw the suits', RTH contributor Kevin Somers self-published this fast-paced, rollicking tale of an inept protagonist who just can't seem to manage either the mysterious logic of his peer culture or the friendly fascism of a near-future society in which every institution has been co-opted by big business.
We enter a world entirely dominated by America (even America itself is hyphenated as "America-America") where the Big Companies are always watching. However, Wayne O'Wayne just wants to get out from under the shadow of his popular, hockey-playing brother Aaron and muster up the courage to ask Claire Palmer out on a date.
In a nine-hour narrative that alternates between the omniscient voice and Wayne's own stream of consciousness, he runs afoul of the dreaded Morley Twins, ignites the ire and scrutiny of the Big Beer Company that sponsors his high school, picks up a riot of bizarre hangers-on, helps tutor children with dolphin brains, flees the police, and finally confronts his assembled nemeses in a heated conclusion.
Underlying the carnival of absurdist lifestyle branding is the deep menace of a private surveillance state, which punishes heresy with all the combined might of corporate hierarchy and abusive state apparatus. At one point, when Wayne is out of monitor range, he thinks, "It's creepy not being watched."
The long germination of this book began in 1993, and it shows in pop culture references that recall the '90s - an "oj" is a knife, and a "clinton" is - well, you can figure that one out.
In fact, it was strange at first to read a satire of contemporary American culture that made almost no reference to the Bush administration aside from a fleeting mention of "Emperor Bush VII".
On reflection, this actually makes a lot of sense. A totalitarian, Bush-dominated culture would not allow disparaging memes about one of its early members to linger in the public consciousness. Instead, it would encourage mockery of the political era that preceded it.
Can Wayne navigate the perilous pitfalls of his adolescent peers? Will he survive the mercenary intentions of his sudsy school? Can he avoid angering the ubiquitous, belligerent cops? Most important: does he get the girl? Read it and find out.
Visit Kevin's website at www.thisiskevinsomers.com to order copies of the book.
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