Zero K by Don DeDillo

To start: this is not how people talk. The dialogue in this novel has so little to do with human speech. That was fascinating, and probably my favorite thing about the book. Not to say that I liked it, I’m still undecided, but seeing that people in books don’t have to talk like people talk if we don’t want them to has a revelation.

The writing is solid, and distinctive, and I appreciated it. It’s very regimented. Not a lot of affect gets through, which creates a certain tone, which is fascinating, but also unsettling/uninviting. That’s definitely the point, but also, not really what I’m about.

He’s playing with the idea of cryogenics — what it would mean to live forever, are our bodies ourselves, when is it ethical to give up on living and start preparing for the next iteration. These are interesting enough questions to bring up, but it doesn’t feel focused. The family drama around this technology is fine. It isn’t riveting, or groundbreaking, but it works.

I liked the book less and less as went on. It’s an interesting idea that gets less interesting when it doesn’t go further or give us answers. It’s playing along the fringes of advanced science, but never takes the leap into science fiction, which would probably make me like it more. There isn’t much sense of humor, or wonder. It’s very precisely stylized, which is its greatest strength, but also keeps the reader at a distance. I appreciated aspects of it, certainly, but didn’t form a real connection with the text. It is what it is, which is interesting, but removed.

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