Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Gun, With Occasional Music Is A Good Book

Or why you should read Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem

Gun, With Occasional Music is a noirey, gonzo Sci-fi mystery. It follows hardboiled private inquistor Conrad Metcalf in a future where questions are forbidden by law, perception altering drugs are over the counter, and where sentient animals and prematurely intelligent babies are up to no good. It is against this background that Orton Angwine, a desperate man all out of karma, approaches Metcalf desperate for help, convinced he is being framed for the murder of a well known urologist. Metcalf, unable to help himself, takes the case and finds himself in a world of trouble. The dead doctor's wife wants things left alone, the inquisitors want the case buried, and a gun-toting kangaroo tough wants Metcalf to just fuck off. But Metcalf is an inquisitive guy, and he wants to get to the bottom of it,

Gun, With Occasional Music is, more than anything, a really fun book. It dives into the swagger and smarm of pulp detective novels with a vengeance and creates a weird and uncouth Sci-fi world where a gun-toting kangaroo working for a mafia kingpin makes narrative sense. Which isn't to imply that this a novel of style without substance: the central mystery of Gun, With Occasional Music is really convoluted and smart and the Science Fiction elements, as wild as they are, circle some pretty hefty ideas about authority and appeasing the masses. Gun, With Occasional Music also wears its literary influences pretty openly. I read Chandler's The Long Goodbye immediately before Gun, and PDK's The Man In The High Tower a week or so before, so it was impossible for me to ignore the influence of both these authors on the novel, which made for an interesting experience. Seriously, Gun, With Occasional Music is a really fun book.

I would recommend Gun, With Occasional Music to any fan of Sci-fi who is curious about Pulp Detective stories or any Mystery Fiction readers tentatively interested in Sci-fi. It seems like a great gateway book. Gun is also a book that I think would make a great vacation novel: it's fun, an exciting page turner, and short enough to be enjoyed entirely on an airplane ride or casually on a beach. Even if you aren't a genre curious sort or jetting off on a beach trip, Gun is a really clever, fun novel that I think you would probably enjoy, so give it a try.

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