Sunday, August 23, 2009

Book Review: Magazine Beach

August 21, 2009
Magazine Beach by Lewis Gannett
Harper Prism

Some books encourage the growth of new neurons. You need them to hold together the plot and compute its theme inside your head. In Magazine Beach, Ian Fleming's suspenseful hi-jinks meet Nevil Shute's technologically-produced disaster and proceed to get busy. It is unfortunate that in 1996, the public imagination had been siezed by various medical and legal thrillers, failing planes, and a former Vice-President's executive orders, that an unlikely eco-terrorist group's impact upon Antartica's ice shelf had not registered. Pity.

My father taught me to appreciate antagonists. Without them, nothing plot-worthy happens. Slotsky with his relentless pursuit of intel, noseless face, 'dorph addiction, and foot fetish more than fits the bill. The man proved as hard to pin down as a subatomic particle. First he was there, then he wasn't. Slotsky had the final laugh in the end.

I also enjoyed the infamous ménage à trois of Antarctic expert Earnest Trefethen, his chemically persuasive wife, Helen Scarf, and billionairess Martha Cliffcloud.

Here are some highlights from the darkly comic narrative:

• A crash course in ice-shelf geomorphology.
• The wonder drug Amphendorph.
• An ambulance tank.
• A home laser defense-system being used as a glorified insect zapper.
• A sexually-frustrated male twin impersonates his own sister and later gives in to his attraction to the man he assumes to be his rival for her affections.
• A plucky old lady by the name of Arugula dies in her sleep after sharing in the adventure of her life.
• The supercool combo of a gay "it" boy, his hetero galpal, and her thigh-high boots earn a cult following.
• Former upstanding members of the "establishment" revert to their radical bent.
• In a cosmic irony, the hero, a self-confessed catastrophist, finds that his photo triggers the final set of nuclear-explosions the survivors intended to prevent. At least, with the exception of Arugula, the rest of the hip, young cast got laid before the end.
• The Earth is the only character left

Some of my favorite quotes:

"I'm a kind of a fraud. Taking credit for geophysical cycles that predate human history by millions of years."
"Who'd believe a bunny sets off doomsday?"
"Nightmare, Toby thought. He realized he was shirtless. Then he realized he wasn't wearing any underwear."
"The Boston Sunday Globe: Nukes in Antartica seek "Beast" "Two Faces": Overpopulation, High Technology? Cambridge Dinner party provides clues."


Her Tangh-i-ness

Disclosure: She received a free review copy direct from the author. It's autographed so she is keeping it.

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