Reviews of Recent books.
The Last Conspiracy, Allen Gray, 55pp, 2000, $19.95, Square One Press,
PO Box 2143 Dunedin, http://www.book.co.nz, email: email@example.com
Reviewed by Bernard Gadd
This book can be enjoyed both as a deftly light satire on the new
right's corporate agenda and as a nicely judged spoof on the sort of
future fiction that takes itself direly seriously. A glance at the cover
picture, the yellow pages, and the almost grinning photo of the author
should warn readers that this is not another tory author acting the
sage, wielding weighty concepts that in the end challenge not much. This
a writer with a zest for the zany which pastiches the zaniness of actual
life … and whose underlying seriousness of purpose is shrewdly left to
the reader to discern.
- Almost all popular conspiracy of power theories are on show ... the
Masons, the corporations, the political elites, whacky scientists, the
Mafia. And all the conspirers are revealed as learning how possession of
power is not only like being part of an almost infinite set of Russian
dolls, but that every doll can be interchangeable and might in fact be
working both sides of any street. And on show also is a near future
course of corporate history in which New Zealand features as the
Promised Land of exile for the Corporates (and/or the rest) until the
stricken world is again a fit place for the Second Coming of the Global
Market. In short, now we know what the Rogernomics coup d'état was all
- The narrative form of the book in itself is a lovely spoof of future and
alternative present fictions. There are a series of introductions, some
by the anonymous finder of the cassette audios whose transcription forms
the bulk of the book, and some by the narrator of the tapes, Hymie
Spitzerella of the Noo York Mob, vitriolicly meeting his death in
darkest Otago. The narrating voices have a taste both for cliché as well
as for the portentous literary or near literary quotation yet are
livelier than those proffered by most NZ literature.
- Allen Gray provides, this time in lampoon of best seller fiction, for a
host of reader expectations … supernatural kea, foreboding hillsides,
sexual martial arts, mobsters, events that echo those of books movies
and the TV news, references to Classical Mythology, GE, and, as the
commercial hypsters say - much else.
- The shortness of the book is also a plus … the reader is left to
consider how much of the book's mickey-taking points us towards
ecological and economic ideas to be considered very seriously.
Gray, a writer on environmental topics, at present works for the Parks
and Gardens section of the Oamaru local authority. This is his first
novel (or novelette). May it not be his last.
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