Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (30 May 2006)
Coy Doctorow is probably best known for his activism, and for the Boing Boing site. But he's also a writer, with works such as the clever Eastern Standard Tribe, a vision of a possible very near future.
Here is another work by him. Expecting as I was something showing his interests, I was unsurprised by the theme of building a community-based open access WiFi network in the city of Toronto. I was surprised, however, by the oddness of a paragraph on the third page, but initially put it down to it being a metaphor that would later get cleared up.
Oh no, it didn't.
He meant it.
This is a small scale story. The central character Alan (or Albert, or Andy, or Abram) is the eldest of seven brothers who have a common name inconsistency. Well, Arthur's name always start with A, and David's with D, but there's no consistency beyond that though, somehow, we do always know when one of them is being named. (Yes, OK, this is odd, but not the oddest bit.) In the absence of parental supervision, Danny went off the rails as a young child, and has been the threat to the rest of the family ever since, while Alan, as the eldest, is trying to thwart him and protect them. Much of the story occurs in flash backs and at one point, there are a number of different time threads running simultaneously - something that can be confusing. However, it does work, though it's not the easiest book to read. (Or maybe it's just me, but I did bounce off it for a bit.) I found the ending a little unsatisfying: the major revelation fell a bit flat, but on the whole the novel worked.
I just hadn't been expecting such an infusion of Magic Realism.
Compared to Eastern Standard Tribe, this one is odd. Interesting, but distinctly odd. And avoid reading the blurb, or the reviews. Oops, too late.