It’s the ending, really. I did not see that ending coming. I should have: it’s on theme. This wasn’t going to be an upbeat ending. That’s not what DT does. Still, though. It was a bit like a mallet to the face. I cannot recommend this book to anyone who has a sunny, cheerful worldview. You will not like it. Also anyone who enjoys daytime television or has a long career of corporate success. You will feel seen.
One does not write a book like this, in which nuclear devestation snaps civilization in two, and celebrates the freedom of it, without having some very real things to say about the post-human tsunami currently riding over us. In the end, Los Angeles suffers nuclear attack not because terrorists want to hurt us (such is always the case), but because our world is too compromised, too absorbed in nonsense, to defend itself. We have branded ourselves to death. Those that pushed us to this precipice: who have rendered every thought, creation, or need into “branded content”, cannot be allowed to have a place in the restoration, such as it is. Civilization must be less civilized if it is to have the animus to survive.
This novel goes forward in a Bukowskian mode, dry and unromantic, finding poetry in the cruelty of life. It is also told in a somewhat non-linear fashion, although things settle down for the third act. Much of its beginning reads very like the slice-of-life tales/lamentations that inhabit The Savage Spear of the Unicorn (which is also worth reading, as its humor is blacker than the bottom of a sewer):
He was eligible for a 401(k). He read up. You can retire comfortably at 65 if you start saving at 23, said Forbes.com. Even with a relatively low yield of 6%. Every 401(k) he’d had earned 1%, lost 2.5% in fees. As for saving at 23: median household pre-tax income is $51,989 per year. Who saves on 40 grand net with a kid. It costs twice that for a school where gas huffing sasquatches don’t commit Rwandan machete genocide. Nobody has money. Nobody gets returns. We’ll all work till we’re dead. Eating shit, having to smile about it.Delicious Tacos “Finally Some Good News, Chapter 2“
If I was married– if my wife could work part time. Cover rent. That’d be something. But there aren’t wives now.
And at first I thought it was going to continue in that vein, more of the “corporate wage slave experiences tfw no gf* in Los Angeles”. A literary Office Space, updated for the new century. But then the bombs drop, and everything stupid and false is wiped away. It’s not a lamentation, it’s a consummation, devoutly to be wished, on the order of Tom Waits’ “Make it Rain.” Society can only get so absurd before it becomes dysgenic, whereupon the Gods of the Copybook Headings get mightily insistent.
The great question I have when reading Taco’s work is why he picked so glaringly obvious a Pseudonym. On the one hand, the ridiculousness of it is a joke itself, an obvious late-night idea thrown off the wall of the mind that somehow stuck. A more believable, more standard nom de plume wouldn’t frame the oevre in the same way. On the other hand, shoving your nose in the realitythat a significant writer, whose work sells well on Amazon, has to hide his identity in order to keep the wolf from the door speaks loud volumes about the world we live in, and who benefits from it.
That ending though. It’s almost too rough to be funny.
*The Feels When no GirlFriend