03 March 2011

Kicking the Door Down: Brandon Tietz's Kickass First Novel

Out of TouchOut of Touch by Brandon Tietz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you don't hate Brandon Tietz's protagonist, Aidin, within the first ten pages of this novel I seriously question the software of your moral GPS. If you don't desperately want to be Aidin by the last ten pages you and I didn't read the same book. Out of Touch is a novel about bizarre changes. As if caught by an atomic powered puberty, our anti-hero finds himself the victim of an unknown medical condition which leaves him entirely devoid of feeling. A cumbersome and metaphorical position for the holder of a limitless AmEx, plenty of uncut coke, a marshmallow cereal stash of pharmaceuticals and the women who er...ehm "love" him for it. As the standard accouterments of the asshole playboy becoming fleeting reveries of feeling, Out of Touch shapes into a fantastic parable for growing up.

Tietz writes like a mid-westerner. His voice is distinct and direct. Being a thoroughly modern novel Tietz breaks all the right rules when it comes to writing. Less like a novel, less even than a speech, Out of Touch is like he's telling you his own story over a bottle of Cristal at a velvet roped club. Conversational, ignoring grammar where necessary for the sake of sounding spoken rather than read; this work is closer to poetry in that way.

The novel has its bumps. I caught spelling and other non-helpful (see above) grammatical errors. The middle of the book hiccuped somewhat. The action gets lost, the voices of all the characters lose their distinction and began to sound like ventriloquists of each other. In the end it all works out alright though. Literally. Trying to stay on the safe side of spoiling I'll just say that it's a whiplash ending. Not a "my lawyer will hear about this" twisted-metal whiplash, more the long lines for admission, zero to sixty in 3 or less and "is it over already?" kind. A roller coaster you will have to ride more than once. What's more, the ending was as thick a story as the entire preceding novel and twice as ballsy. Quite a feat and quite a save.

Read this book. A must for Palahniuk and Easton-Ellis fans, Tietz successfully pays homage to some literary heavy weights and is easily elbowing his way to their stack on the shelf.

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