The Nostalgia Echo

Mickey Hess. C&R (SPD, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (331p) ISBN 978-1-936196-08-1
A man sets out to find his birth mother, armed only with a Polaroid linking her to prominent “nostalgia theorist” Dr. Everett Barnes, in this jumbled satire from Hess (Is Hip Hop Dead?). Gene, a professional voiceover artist in a not-too-distant-future, where all TV is a kind of staged reality show, learns that he was adopted when he stumbles across Princeton professor Barnes’s 1976 book The Good Old Days Never Happened. His adoptive parents confess that they know nothing about his birth mother beyond a photograph of her attending one of Barnes’s readings. Nostalgia—once considered a physical ailment before being relegated to wistful remembrances—is making a resurgence, as is Barnes’s popularity. Now pharmaceutical companies hope to exploit nostalgia with Barnes’s endorsement. Gene’s quest gets lost in the shuffle of Barnes’s shift into the spotlight and the public’s fascination with preserving—or destroying—the collective past. Also woven in are the struggles of semiretired graffiti artist Lon Friday and his recent separation from his archivist wife. Brief flashes of Vonnegutian absurdity and allusions to Holden Caulfield’s belief in the futility of storytelling aren’t enough to bring cohesion to this intriguing but poorly executed idea. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/17/2011
Release date: 12/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
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