From the award-winning author of The Feral Detective and Motherless Brooklyn comes an utterly original post-collapse yarn about two siblings, the man that came between them, and a nuclear-powered super car.
The Arrest isn’t post-apocalypse. It isn’t a dystopia. It isn’t a utopia. It’s just what happens when much of what we take for granted—cars, guns, computers, and airplanes, for starters—quits working. . . .
Before the Arrest, Sandy Duplessis had a reasonably good life as a screenwriter in L.A. An old college friend and writing partner, the charismatic and malicious Peter Todbaum, had become one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. That didn’t hurt.
Now, post-Arrest, nothing is what it was. Sandy, who calls himself Journeyman, has landed in rural Maine. There he assists the butcher and delivers the food grown by his sister, Maddy, at her organic farm. But then Todbaum shows up in an extraordinary vehicle: a retrofitted tunnel-digger powered by a nuclear reactor. Todbaum has spent the Arrest smashing his way across a fragmented and phantasmagorical United States, trailing enmities all the way. Plopping back into the siblings’ life with his usual odious panache, his motives are entirely unclear. Can it be that Todbaum wants to produce one more extravaganza? Whatever he’s up to, it may fall to Journeyman to stop him.
Written with unrepentant joy and shot through with just the right amount of contemporary dread, The Arrest is speculative fiction at its absolute finest.
Lethem (The Feral Detective) returns with a lukewarm tale of an apocalypse set in the very near future. Sandy Duplessis worked as a screenwriter in Los Angeles with his friend Peter Todbaum. Then came the Arrest, an unexplained event that caused computers and other technology to stop working and reduced everyone to locavores. In the aftermath, Sandy, who calls himself Journeyman, ends up in rural Maine working as a butcher and delivering food grown by his sister, Maddy. When Todbaum shows up and starts pursuing Mandy, their simple life gets complicated. The locals feel threatened by Todbaum's presence, and Sandy, who is unnerved by Todbaum's claim that he predicted the Arrest, wonders if his old friend can be trusted, while Maddy, who begins sleeping with Todbaum, becomes his sole defender. Lethem's prose is as great as ever ("Journeyman was a middle person, a middleman. Always locatable between things, and therefore special witness in both directions, to extremes remote to one another, an empathic broker between irreconcilable poles or so he flattered himself"), but despite the fine writing, the plot fails to coalesce into something engaging, the Arrest remains murky, and many scenes feel disjointed. Still, the project crackles and hums with witty dialogue and engaging ideas. While it's not entirely satisfying, Lethem's fans won't mind.
Rarely do I have to force myself to finish a book. That’s exactly what it took for me to get thru this.