A vindictive nihilist and his sycophantic sidekick delight in petty urban terrorism and indulgent hedonism. But when the course of events spiral out of control, the sidekick is suddenly left with more responsibility than he could have ever imagined – knowledge of how the world will end.
Now a leader with his own sycophantic followers, Matthew will struggle with his new role and the responsibilities it brings, all the while searching for a way to evade the imminent apocalypse that he has become the prophet of.
Matthew and the Derelict
by Joseph J. Wood
Contemporary Literary Fiction
November 10, 2015
This is a rough one. Following the depraved and psychopathic Alan, Matthew participates in petty larceny, theft, kidnapping, rape, and a double murder. And that’s just in the first half. All of that’s buried under uber-flowery prose that’s so thickly laced with imagery and deep meaning that I had trouble finding the story under it all. The whole story is basically a tour of the worst things humans can do to each other and themselves.
When it switched over to the part of the description that made me interested in reading this, a sidekick who learns about the end of the world and gains followers to try to survive it, it seemed it was nothing but the main character apathetically tricking young people, stupid ones, into spreading his deranged word, finding him drugs and food, or testing his insane theories about time and his mysterious visitor (a hallucination).
The language tries to be beautiful, but it falls flat in that it tends to say nothing at all of value: the chapter long description of stopping for lunch or describing the city as something alive, the other chapters where I wasn’t sure what happened, the pivotal initial meeting with the visitor, quickly forgotten as one would a dream. I tried skimming to get a feel for the rest of the book when I realized I didn’t want to spend much more time on this without being sure it was going somewhere, but I kept having to slow down because the action is buried in tiny snippets of text, hidden like rotten Easter eggs among the flowers. Even some of the most depraved scenes are buried in this way so that I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d read, and then it would hit me.
And yes, I read the whole thing. Skimming, not skipping. I get the gist, the twist, the likely point of the thing. And I might actually have enjoyed this had the nihilistic activities in the first half of the book been what I’d expected, just petty and not quite so deranged and hurtful, or had the plot been clearer and revealed earlier than the 50% mark, or had the main character been in any way likeable or admirable . I think I might have enjoyed it if I had actually skipped the first half of the book entirely.
So, overall, I can’t say that I liked this, and I wouldn’t recommend the story to friends. I imagine people who like an extremely dark read or who like puzzling through heavy ideas buried under heavier prose might enjoy it, might. Not for those who suffer from triggers or depression.
The review copy of this book was received in exchange for a fair and honest review.
About Joseph J. Wood
No bio or website found online.