I just finished Matthew Spector’s “American Dream Machine,” from Tin House Books. I have to admit that even as I admired Specktor’s ability to flip POV’s between Beau Rosenwald and the narrator, Nate, I had a hard time getting engaged in the book.
I felt flipped out of one narrative and into another before I was really connected to the characters, which left me foundering and unengaged. The complicated changes in time didn’t help this sense of being tossed about.
The book is reminiscent of “Notes from the Goon Squad” in the flips through time, looking at the movie industry rather than the music industry, via a big ensemble “cast.” Even when I was struggling to get hooked in, Specktor’s work was reminiscent of Truman Capote’s ability to thoroughly embody multiple personas.
What brought me back to the book was not the obligation I felt for our “Editors Roundtable” series, but the poetry of the text. What both pushed me out and kept me in is the atmospheric nature of the text. Moments like this: “For a moment I remained in this sunken hole in the ground that was like a grave slathered with toothpaste-it was that perfect bland turquoise color-and sang that song about the dark end of the street, how it’s where we’ll always meet. But I stopped, finally. Who wants to sing alone?”
And I couldn’t stop and I’m so glad I didn’t. A little under halfway through the novel became one of those distractions—what? I have papers to grade? Laundry to do? Showers to take? They waited, because the book just wouldn’t.
Want more? Read this Specktor interview at The Rumpus.
Then, buy the book.
And oh, yeah. I should tell you: the book is being adapted into a Showtime series by Michael C. Hall and Matthew Specktor. So, that happened.