Spring 2020 will bring with it a strange little novel from moi, tentatively titled On Neutral Zones (if you get this reference, you’re a Real One) on Adelaide Books of NYC. Shout out to Adelaide for taking a chance with this one. More to come, but here’s the general gist:
From the author of Condominium (CCLAP Press, 2015) and Travels & Travails Of Small Minds (Ardent Press, 2017), works which received decent reviews and a good amount of positive press and book blog attention, we have a brand new one: On Neutral Zones.
ONZ has all the elements of Condo or T&TOSM (NYC culture satire, razor dialogue, characters straight from voided dimensions) but is far more taut and controlled in its execution, not to mention more mature.
An unnamed narrator. A Westchester house and a patch of lawn. A distant marital partner and a dissolute daughter. A stack of unopened bills in the middle of a kitchen table bought on a chain store credit card. The crushing weight of a dying empire. The overpowering urge to flee. But where is there to run? One day while trudging his usual steps to Grand Central after wrapping up at the office, the narrator stumbles upon one of the several “pod hotels” now occupying New York City, a hip takeoff on the tiny transient quarters long occupied by Japanese businessmen. “pod”. Within those three letters our narrator finds his answer, his obsession, his salvation.
Over the course of three scorching weeks in late summer, our narrator encounters guiding apparitions disguised as co-workers, flees his dead empire for life in the pods, and falls into a pattern of day-to-day efficiency and contentedness that had previously eluded him in the chaos and open space of the outer world. Joined by a growing cult of fellow pod dwellers, he wonders how long it will take for the disorder of the outer realms to make its way into their condensed and well-organized utopia. Forming an unlikely alliance with a private investigator sent to look into his disappearance, he sets out on an offbeat quest to save his daughter while struggling to maintain his newly compartmentalized existence.
Dealing with the death of the traditional American household, concepts of alternative housing and voluntarily fluid living patterns, and the universal desire to get out from under the cumbersome dead weight of life choices and the self-created twin albatrosses of responsibility and societal advancement, On Neutral Zones is as thought-provoking as it is entertaining.
Taut but emotional, humorous but dealing with potent concepts, this is a truly modern novel that just may predict a number of important future migrations bubbling under the surface of our rapidly morphing society.
Light reading on the way this spring.