FICTION

Adjustment Day

Norton. May 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780393652598. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393652604. F
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Palahniuk (Fight Club) joins Sinclair Lewis and George Orwell in Dystopia, where Adjustment Day is the culmination of an underclass revolution wherein whole legislatures and individuals with lots of votes on "the list"—the "elites"—are slaughtered. Its originator, a delusional geriatric named Talbott Reynolds, claims that the problem with America is ethnic and sexual mixing. So the country is divided: the Deep South becomes Blacktopia (and thrives), California becomes Gaysia (repression and unrest), and the rest becomes Caucasia (a weird paradise for the former underclass, a nightmare for others). Palahniuk is a skilled stylist prone to complicated diction and gargantuan sentences. The book is also heavy with allusion: once in pursuit of a point, the author references in succession The Great Gatsby, Gone with the Wind, Valley of the Dolls, and his above-mentioned novel. There are traces of noir, magical realism, sf, and horror. It's all there, with the power to amuse, astound, and provoke, with material sure to offend (probably multiple times) almost everyone. Additionally, readers must get through several hundred pages to learn what happens to Hispanics and Asians. Nevertheless, it's a book for 2018.
VERDICT Palahniuk is an acquired taste; those who have it will devour this, for others, it might be the place to start. [See Prepub Alert, 11/27/17.]

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