Monday, February 07, 2011

Apocalypse for Beginners by Nicolas Dickner

My review of Nicolas Dickner's second novel in the Toronto Star.

A wee sniff:

It’s getting harder and harder to make the end of the world seem interesting. Familiarity breeds contempt, even when it comes to the something as big as the apocalypse.

Indeed, among the more recent depictions of the end of days — and there have been so many, usually with war, plague, zombies, ecological disaster or some combination of all four playing a role — only a precious few have treated it with anything close to seriousness or dread. At a time when publishers are offering up tongue-in-cheek zombie survival guides and post-apocalyptic cookbooks, a work like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is an anomaly. (And even that was seen as approachable enough for Oprah viewers.)

Montreal’s Nicolas Dickner, in his second novel, eschews neither comedy nor gravitas in his own take on the end of the world, but the register he sticks to most faithfully is boredom. His is a story in which the concept of apocalypse is more a source of personal frustration than anything else. Unfortunately, his book enacts that frustration and boredom a little too faithfully.


Thee whole thing.


[Edit: Corrected the spelling goof in Dickner's name.]