Book Reviews:


by Todd Wiggins
(Abacus, 320 pgs, p/b)

['Journal' cover] As books set in the future go, this one's a riot. Literally. Pre-millennial tension runs rife as four young not-so-innocents cross America (where else?) on the mother of all road trips, and have to deal with rednecks, schizophrenia, lesbian incest, black power, not to mention the inevitable scumsucking TV crews along the way.

At times laugh-out-loud funny, mostly a-quiet-snicker-on-the-tube humorous, Zeitgeist runs at a faster pace than most authors could cope with, but Wiggins manages to keep up with his complex characters and the complex plot without ever resorting to banalities or "afroisms" (sic) as a shortcut. Many issues (race, sex, religion, science, animal rights, media - the whole gamut) are covered both with wit and veracity. Not only does Wiggins display a media savvy as befitting to a man of the 90s, he also has a take on philosophy that provides an interesting backdrop to what would otherwise be a fairly standard take on the millennium. None of the characters are particularly likeable, but Wiggins makes sure that the reader can at least empathise, and this guarantees that you'll be turning the page to see what happens next.

Not always an easy read, by any means, but a worthwhile one because it tackles everyone's favourite subject in way that is action-packed and yet sensitive - no mean feat, by anyone's standards, never mind a first-time novelist. A rough but enjoyable ride, like a night out at the karaoke with the local pig-farmer after too much popcorn at the multiplex. Recommended.

Anna Jellinek

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