Review of Reif Larsen's "I Am Radar" in the Dallas Morning News

So I’ve neglected this lonely little blog so often I should seriously feel guilty, but . . . I have my reasons. Note that I say I should feel guilty. But I don’t. (Well, maybe just a tad scrap of guilt is swirling around the door to the garage of my soul, like that plastic blag in American Beauty (1999). Why? I’ve completed the first draft of a new novel I’ve been working on for about two years, for one thing, which always ranked higher on my to-do list than blogging. A novel is (or attempts to be) an epic panorama of life, while blog posts tend to be snapshots, the digital kind. And in addition to finishing the novel’s first draft (I expect at least another, but hope to finish it all this year), roller-skating with my daughter (first time on skates in, um, forty years?), snow-slogging through this never-ending winter, and much more, I recently managed to read Reif Larsen’s epic, 644-page novel, I Am Radar, which I reviewed today in the Dallas Morning News, here. Although I stand by what I wrote for that review, interested people can know that the review’s first draft was over a thousand words, and I could easily write five thousand words on this book. It’s the kind of novel you almost want other people to read so you can argue with them about it. Yes, it’s overwritten, but many good books have their “overwritten” moments. There’s so much in the novel it’s hard to know where to begin: There’s a great deal about radio and puppets, which doesn’t seem to add up to much, but which is nonetheless fascinating. And isn’t being fascinating part of the fun of novels? I compare it to Thomas Pynchon’s V. (1963), a book that demands great patience to complete (I read it while riding around Europe one summer on their many trains), but which totally deserves the attention. And no, I don’t think I Am Radar is in the same category as V., but I greatly admire its ambition.
There’s something lyrically memorable about reading long, literary novels—a feeling of accomplishment, of being immersed in someone else’s brain, someone else’s vision of the world, for that long (it’s that TFW experience). I read much of I Am Radar over the Christmas break, at my home in Colorado, in the snows and blue light of winter.

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