Vid Lazer Hardt’s CLass employs a number of literary techniques to, in general, good effect, some of which are used from a position of a supreme irony. The reader is given an introductory note from journalist, Duncan Bloom, who is the author of the main embedded narrative entitled “Concessions – Book One of the Acton Novels”. It’s all slightly tongue-in-cheek and nicely sets the tone; providing intrigue and a subtle touch of satirical self-mockery which evolves throughout the book. The beginning of the story is crammed with descriptive imagery and comic nuances. Whilst the strength and unusual beauty of this novel lies in the intricately twisting prose, the opening could have benefitted from being a little less elaborate. It does hamper the reader’s initial engagement with the characters and their stories.
The narrative flits from real-time to distant past to recent present and from character to story with an almost dizzying speed, separated by hashtags and Roman numerals. It works well, creating curiously addictive little vignettes. These are punctuated with some lovely observational nuggets of a town in motion that are almost poetic in form. They slow the rapid pace, showcasing another dimension to the writing which is essentially the key feature in a work of this genre. There is no direct, continuous main plot but rather a series of events, intrigues and possibilities that interlink and take the reader down a rabbit-hole of imaginative ingenuity. Some of the scenes have a filmic quality and, on occasion, the author brazenly signposts where the characters are heading. Sometimes the reader is in on the joke and sometimes they have to work harder to find the punchline.
The cast in CLass are a mixture of sleazy reprobates, desperate degenerates and the simply desperate. Constable Orville O. Obfuss and Skip Mayer Jr., are the morally, and physically repellent, spiders in a twisted web whose strands connect most of the town’s residents and they are written with skin-crawling realism. As snapshots of each individual’s existence are woven through the prose, the characters start to really develop. The reader is given a sense of where they’ve been and where they want to be in a haphazard style which perfectly mimics their mental machinations and is constructed with deceptive skill. Line by line, layers are peeled back to reveal what makes these personalities tick. There are some thoughtful twists that balance the wry observational satire of the writing and the scheming, seedy actions of the protagonists. Aside from its humor, the dialogue throughout is nicely authentic and contains beautifully rendered moments of poignancy; the scene between Pilar and Dotty was movingly pathetic and also heralded a change in the structure. The last quarter of the novel is more traditional in construct. The scenes involving Bob’s pursuit are hilariously far-fetched but the action with Dotty, Loudon, Johnny/Giovanni and Barack Obama, whilst meant to be ridiculous, did stretch credulity.
CLass is a cleverly written, riotously intense work of literary fiction that uses the full scope of language to provide a darkly humorous and, at times, compelling read.
~Rose Auburn for IndieReader