cover image Found Audio

Found Audio

N.J. Campbell. Two Dollar Radio (Consortium, dist.), $15.99 trade paper (170p) ISBN 978-1-937512-57-6

In his debut, Campbell has written a page-turner, an onion peel of a story surrounding nothing less than the central questions of human existence. The first layer is author Campbell’s claim to have come upon a manuscript. The second layer consists of documents accompanying this manuscript, written in haste by an audio analyst named Amrapali Anna Singh, who claims a man arrived in her office in Alaska, bringing with him important audio recordings from Buenos Aires, and offered her a very large amount of money to analyze them. The core of the book is Singh’s transcription of the recordings themselves, in which an intrepid unnamed journalist recounts a series of strange and dangerous journeys upon which he embarks in search of people and ideas that are greater than the sum of their parts. In the first tape the journalist describes a trip to the Louisiana bayou in search of a man named Otha Johnson, a legendary bounty hunter of snakes. In the second, the journalist travels to the walled city of Kowloon, a remote village in South Africa, and finally to the Mongolian desert in search of “the City of Dreams,” mentioned throughout history by the likes of Napoleon and Cortez. It is unclear and unsettling to both the journalist and the reader whether the journalist’s experiences are real or hallucinated. In the final tape, the journalist meets “the Turk,” a chess-playing shaman who thereafter appears in the journalist’s dreams, promising to reveal “that there may be more and less to this world than there seems to be.” The reader is led down a rabbit hole and back out again, confused, afraid, but nevertheless also ever so slightly amused. This is a weird little book full of momentum, intrigue, and weighty ideas to mull over. (July)