Author: Jeffery M. Anderson
I love a good conspiracy story. Before I moved and actually had a lot more bookshelf space, I had an entire two shelves dedicated to conspiracies. I’m not saying I believe all of them, or even the majority of them, but they are fascinating to read about nonetheless. Ephemera by Jeffrey M. Anderson is sort of a conspiracy story, but it’s also much more. It’s part dystopian, part utopian, part political intrigue, part dark humor, and part something else entirely that I can’t describe. It’s a commentary on today’s society as well as a cautionary tale of what’s to come. All of that in just the first 100 pages.
The story largely centers on Nester Cab, who has the ridiculous job of reviewing reviewers (gods, I hope that never catches on). In the beginning of the book, he is writing a scathing review on movie critic’s review of a movie. He’s mostly a sour, unhappy man, and nothing really seems to perk him up. Not even his robotic German Shepherd (city dwellers are no longer allowed to have pets without jumping through hoops to get a permit). Maybe it has to do with the constant stream of advertising that he is subjected to while living in the city. Having ads projecting onto the foreheads of your friends while you’re talking to them would be enough to make anyone grumpy, although most people in Anderson’s world don’t seem to mind it. Advertising is the most valuable commodity in a post-modern America where we have basically collapsed into total financial ruin (maybe it’s not really all that post-modern after all). Cash is dead, advertising credit is king.
Cab is going about his normal, unpleasant life when he quite suddenly and expectantly receives a message that he should out what happened to a missing soldier. His journey leads him out of the city and into Bethlehem, PA (which is actually about a half hour from my house). There, he encounters numerous and increasingly bizarre violent fringe members of society and anti-government organizations, including the neo-Luddite army, who end up kidnapping Cab.
The story takes some strange twists and turns, and it’s very surreal at many times, but it was definitely interesting and unique. To be honest, none of the characters are really all that likable, but somehow I still wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. As a long-time fan of David Lynch, I enjoy surreal tales that leave you wondering if you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole every few pages. This is definitely one of those books that you have to be in the right mood for, and you have to have a strong appreciation for very dark and sardonic humor.