Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Leper of Liberty Park: a Non-Book Review

by Drew Martin

The following review is of a book, which has not been written and does not exist in any other form than here in this blurb. It is not meant to be a clever way to propose an idea for a book but, instead, for a potential reader (who would never read the book anyway) to experience this non-book at the same level he or she will might through a book review of a real book (which he or she may also never read):

The Leper of Liberty Park is the latest book by Drew Martin and it takes place in and around Manhattan in the year 3010. The greatest preoccupation in this time is the Mosaic Virus, called MoVi for short.

MoVi is a computer virus, which sounds harmless, but getting it is a slow, lonely death for its victim. Actual physiological diseases have been piling up in humans over the past thousand years but cocktails of medicine, individually catered through on-demand processed food, keep them indefinitely at bay. People live, love and have children with AIDS and other ills saturating their bodies.

The main character, Theo, is a relatively successful family man, with a loving wife, a seven year old daughter and a good job. The story starts with Theo minutes before he gets infected. He picks up MoVi from an adult social networking site he accesses at work. At first Theo's computer screen goes blank and then a total, targeted shutdown quickly dominoes. Almost immediately he is paralyzed to the computer integrated world around him. Not only is he removed from his job two minutes later and left standing on the sun baked street but he is instantly shunned by even his closest friends and family, including his wife, daughter and parents. The computer network system is so complete that after an alert is sent to his wife, which reveals he has been infected, she also receives a list and profiles from a dating service of eligible men who are clean of the virus.

Theo is officially an untouchable. It is not that society has become this heartless, but that MoVi is such a contagious and debilitating computer virus that no one can risk helping him. Unable to stay in Manhattan, Theo paddles across the Hudson River on a large styrofoam crate he finds banging up against a West Side pier. He takes refuge in an old foundation in Liberty Park, New Jersey and hunts Canadian geese, which have grown to the size of emus, and groundhogs, which are now as large as capybaras.

Theo survives the initial blow and is able to sustain himself, but the absence of the pharmaceutical powders, which had colored his food like calculated printer toners, sets off a chain reaction of biological warfare in his body. Soon poor Theo is covered in boils and bloody lesions and dies a painful and pathetic death in a matter of weeks.

The book does not end on such a sad note. Instead, it picks up where we first meet Theo; impeccably clean and professional, sitting pretty in his bright office. The solicitation flashes on his screen. This time he merely shakes his head and gets back to work. It is unclear if either the fall or this altered replay are dreams. What is also uncertain is whether there is a moral message to it. This is never expressed but is left to the reader to interpret; if the story is circumstantial to a lapse in character or simply a cruel world with irreversible circumstances.