cover image Tonguing the Zeitgeist

Tonguing the Zeitgeist

Lance Olsen. Permeable Press, $11.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-1-882633-04-3

This futuristic novel is something of a puzzler. On one hand, Olsen is the master of an evocative, expressive prose. Hip images tumble across the page with a hypnotic, hallucinogenic clarity. On the other hand, Olsen's characters are flat, unappealing and poorly motivated, and his sense of structure is virtually nonexistent. The action focuses mainly on Ben Tendo, an acoustic guitar-playing musician who lives in what used to be the Pacific Northwest of the United States and dreams of success and riches in a world dominated by wizards of electronic music. Ben's story zips and lurches along in dislocating jump-cuts that are so over-engineered that the story line is lost in a confusing morass of seemingly unconnected details. There's too much emphasis on being cool, and not enough emphasis on craftsmanship. Ages 14-up. (May)