Monday, December 28

ra remote review

I finished reading Remote, so here's my opinionated and unqualified attempt at a review.

First let me say I couldn't have written anything as good. The book is a few days inside the head of Jimmy, an Edinburgh drug person and reformed librarian. This book has everything - drugs, politics, sex, terrorism, and drugs.

Jimmy copes with multiple life stresses using a succession of uppers, downers and outers. As a result, his state of mind fluctuates wildly - one minute he's chewing his own face on speed, the next he's ultra-calm in the face of death. Sometimes he's unconscious.

While the continual mood swings are no doubt an authentic portrayal of druggie life, they make it hard for the reader to empathize. Just when you think "poor guy, having all those psychos freaking him out" he swallows and smokes a new combo of drugs and feels completely calm, cold and in control.

Heartbroken because his girlfriend has left him, he's again hard to empathize with, because I have no idea what was good about her. Perhaps some physical description would have helped. Or if I were told that she runs a soup kitchen for orphans, I could see why she was lovable.

Perhaps partly through senility, I lost track of the multiple bombs, detonators and remote controls, though the basic idea of double, or perhaps triple, crossing is good.

Whenever the hero takes another drug, there's a full description of the rolling or snorting or whatever. Some of this repetition could be streamlined in the second edition.

Some of the things I liked include the way that Jimmy is completely on his own in a menacing world. I also liked the similarities to the TV series Ideal - the doorbell is forever ringing at the drug dealer's flat, and we never know who's going to ring next but we suspect it's not going to be good news. The moments of paranoia are gripping. And when Jimmy has to hide various incriminating items, it seems realistically risky and burdensome.

If I had written this book, I would be pleased with myself. But the guy who wrote Remote has written better stuff. This one won't be his Pulitzer winner.

- Posted from iPod


  1. I say!

    " minute he's chewing his own face on speed, the next he's ultra-calm in the face of death" Good to know that it all balanced up.

    I think the girlfriend in question was something of a saint. Would have to be to put upp with that malarkey.

    MM III

  2. Albert? Very fair review really!! Obviously, the book's crap. I should really go back and re-write it another sixteen times. But you managed to read it all the way through (probably!) so that's good. Confusion about the remote control switch, etc., is not good. This has been dead useful as it gets me set up for the agent's response, which I'm not counting on being good! I thought you'd be bothered by the characterisation (or lack of it!) of Camille. Do you think I should leave the gratuitous sex scene in? Hotboy p.s Did you find any of it amusing at all?

  3. Mingers, you're certainly getting the hang of the freelance Taoism thing now that you've left the unbalanced world if work. PS Did you read about the injuries in our beach cricket match?

    Hotters, as a humourless bavarian I'm no good at understanding this grizzly black humour stuff. So Tarantino leaves me puzzled, but his fans could enjoy the film of Remote. You'll clean up. I did however laugh when the hero was sardonic.

    I thought it was an advantage that the sex scene wasn't explicit, so that the details were left to the imagination. If you wanted explicit you would have subcontracted that part to onan.