Connect by Julian Gough examination – on a run from Dad and his drones
May 14, 2018 - Fifty Shades of Grey
“I frequency review Irish writers any more,” pronounced Julian Gough in 2010. “Novel after novel set in a 1970s, 60s, 50s… we wouldn’t know radio had been invented.”
Although Gough’s mischievous puncture during his peers predated a extraordinary torrent of well-developed new novella from Ireland in new years, it’s satisfactory to contend that a stream stage stays hyper-literary in flavour, with Beckettian dramatisations of alertness (see Eimear McBride or Claire-Louise Bennett) some-more common than all-action thrills and spills of a kind dished adult in Gough’s baleful new novel, Connect, a hi-tech follow account in low-slung prose.
Set in near-future Nevada, a story follows Colt, an autistic 16-year-old who spends so many time in practical existence – evading “crapworld” – that he’s waterproofed his headset so as to be means to showering in it. His mother, Naomi, a biologist, has figured out how to regrow tellurian limbs by study caterpillars – a breakthrough that, in perspective of a intensity for use by a US military, means she’s on a watch list of her ex-husband, Ryan, a counterclaim arch scheming to hurl out a self-governing inhabitant confidence complement imitative Skynet in The Terminator.
The indirect mayhem unfolds in a fatal yet robust character of a Hollywood movement thriller. “Great, that’s all my day needed,” says Naomi, confronting a gunman. Here’s Colt during a pivotal moment:
I don’t wish to die.
But we don’t wish to kill.
I can’t kill him!
But, if we don’t…
I don’t wish Mama to die.
This is a many formidable calculation he’s ever made… Decide.
Naomi relishes cooperative sex, a legacy, we’re told, of childhood abuse during a hands of her father. After divorcing Ryan, she took pills to conceal her libido since “the pain of desire, with no outlet, was creation her cry dual or 3 nights a week”.
Her remarkable preference to give them adult licenses a lot of essay about excited nights (“Her boobs stir, and rise. She moves her legs apart, and moans”), that lends a somewhat cake-and-eat-it atmosphere to a evidently feminist aspirations of Gough’s tract – that during one indicate sees Naomi coax a sleazeball co-worker into meditative he’s in with a shot, usually for her to fill him full of a fatal toxin.
As Naomi and Colt go on a run from Ryan’s swift of self-starting drones, a novel comes to resemble a gonzo hybrid between The Matrix and Fifty Shades of Grey, created in a best moments with a gait and wit of Dave Eggers’s The Circle. Gough’s destiny America takes in Jetsons-style gadgetry (solar-powered drudge hoovers, articulate fridges) as good as end-times doomsaying: we’re told in flitting of an occurrence in that high-school “biohackers” murder their classmates with “an airborne chronicle of bubonic plague”. “We can print out one of those protein strips we like,” suggests Naomi when Colt is hungry.
In essential moments, though, a novel loses vigour. It falls to Colt to use his imagination gained in a practical universe to tackle Ryan’s confidence complement – a kind of deus ex machina (or deus ex appurtenance code) fortitude that Gough struggles to make vivid. And a adore story by that Colt learns to set aside his insecurities for a real-world attribute with Sasha, a likewise nervous lady he encounters in-game, gives we a nervous clarity that Connect is regulating autism as a substitute for some-more concept rites of passage.
But while it strikes a peculiar wrong note, it hits so many others – as a story of family dysfunction plugged into incomparable questions about reality, expansion and a west’s self-definition as “the good guys” – that it’s easy to forgive.
• Connect by Julian Gough is published by Picador (£14.99). To sequence a duplicate for £12.74 go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK pp over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min pp of £1.99