I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Bleak New World

Bleak New World

Carlo Gébler
Connect, by Julian Gough, Picador, 468 pp, £14.99, ISBN: 978-1509809837 A psychologist once told me that to understand what someone’s kernel is you just determine what their world was built from and what they cared about when they came into consciousness. Whatever obtained in their late teens or early adulthood, said the psychologist, that is their pith and everything coming later they don’t and won’t get. I was born in 1954: I became conscious in the late 1960s. So when I came to consciousness the objects that enabled my world were (the list is not exhaustive) gramophones, typewriters, telephones, cinema projectors, railways and motorcars. Technologically speaking (for it’s my tech kernel that matters, given the novel here under review) I’m a late nineteenth and early twentieth century guy: that is why a good postal service matters more to me today than broadband rollout. Now, much has happened since the 1960s and I’ve tried to keep up. I have a computer and I do write emails: but I prefer letters and I use the train whenever possible. Oh, and I don’t own an iPhone. Readers should bear the above in mind as they read what follows. Julian Gough’s early novels and stories are satires – ludic, deft and linguistically extravagant. Their targets are either Hibernia and her priestly, hide-bound ways or our bonkers global economic system, and Gough gives his targets a pretty good drubbing. But – and this is the really important thing about these works – he always favours laughter over point-scoring. One likes that in a satirist, or at any rate I do. Better pleasure-giving than finger-pointing any day. Gough’s new novel, Connect, both derogates from and remains true to his established practices. The language (this is what’s new) is brutally simple, plain and demotic, whilst the engagement with the world and the determination to lambaste its idiocies (always Gough’s style) remains in play. Connect is set in America in the future. The internet is over everything – everything – and the whole world and everything in it is online. (I know that’s a poor sentence but I literally don’t have the language to say it better. Remember this is a creature of the 1960s reviewing a novel about the future.) Our principal characters are Naomi and her son, Colt. She’s a single mom: her estranged husband, Ryan, works for the deep state (security). She’s a scientist (biotech). Colt is…

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