What would you do if you discovered another you – a dead-ringer who shows up at your job, moves into your apartment, and steals your friends? In Me2, M. Christian offers up a unique – if at times wearisome - look at individual identity and societal conformity and the dangerous intersection at which both meet.
More experimental novel than straightforward storytelling, Me2 presents an unnamed narrator who’s convinced that he’s been somehow replicated. While each chapter is introduced by one side of a different conversation that attempts to offer possible explanations – evil twin, lost sibling, robot, alien, doppelganger, clone – the narrative is essentially held together by the loose, stream-of-consciousness point-of-view of this nameless narrator. There’s less a sequence of events resembling a plot than a sequence of mental meanderings meant to explain the narrator’s predicament – of which we’re never quite sure to begin with.
Paranoid manifestations of schizophrenia? Cautionary parable about conformism? Overwrought metaphor for the affects of consumerism on individual indentity? Who knows – and who really cares? Christian’s narrator is so bland, faceless, and devoid of anything resembling human emotion – other than a generic, paranoid fear – that it’s hard to connect with either the character or what little story there is here. Even the little sex that’s offered up is antiseptic. While it’s clear – and necessary, to a point - that the author intentionally coats the proceedings with a nonspecific layer of colorless paint in order to speak to the idea of the dulling down of individuality, it nevertheless fails to fuel or hold interest.
That said, Me2 is not without its merits. Christian possesses one of the most unique voices in fiction, using alliteration and repetition to create a poetry/prose hybrid form of writing that – despite the lackluster plot – draws the reader in. To discover Christian’s subtle undercurrent of staccato literary rhythm is like discovering a series of intricate, exploration-worthy catacombs beneath the most conventional suburban house on the most generic of cul de sacs.
Decidedly more high-brow concept novel than horror tale, Me2 would have been better marketed as literary fiction. While there are some keenly astute observations about the emulsification of queer identity and its absorption into mainstream culture, its distinct avant-garde approach to horror will be disconcerting to the average genre reader. More artsy East Village than working-class Brooklyn, Me2 is a hallucinogenic, thought-provoking work of modernism likely to evoke more Euripides than heebie-jeebies. Read it for the writing; skip it for the horror.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Me, Me, Me, Me, Me2