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Panopticon - David Bajo

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As the California borderland newspaper where they work prepares to close, three reporters are oddly given assignments to return to stories they’ve covered before—each one surprisingly personal. The first assignment takes reporter Aaron Klinsman and photographer Rita Valdez to an abandoned motel room where the mirrors are draped with towels, bits of black tape cover the doorknobs, and the perfect trace of a woman’s body is imprinted on the bed sheets. From this sexually charged beginning—on land his family used to own—Klinsman, Rita, and their colleague, Oscar Medem understand that they are supposed to uncover something. They just don’t know what.

Following the moonlit paths their assignments reveal through the bars, factories and complex streets of Tijuana and Otay, haunted by the femicides that have spread westward from Juarez, the reporters become more intimately entwined. Tracing the images they uncover, and those they cause and leave behind, they soon realize that every move they make is under surveillance. Beyond this, it seems their private lives and even their memories are being reconstructed by others.

Panopticon is a novel of dreamlike appearances and almost supernatural memories, a world of hidden watchers that evokes the dark recognition of just how little we can protect even our most private moments. It is a shadowy, erotic novel only slightly speculative that opens into the world we all now occupy.

"Bajo is a demanding writer who does not go out of his way to make sure the reader is crystal-clear about everything that is going on. But his work does not require decoding or deconstructing so much as it requires diligence. You have to sit up and pay attention when you read Panopticon; the book is perplexing because the mystery Klinsman unravels is perplexing. Bajo rarely resorts to pyrotechnic prose, but he never writes a sentence that disappoints the reader. The story advances by leaps and starts, but it does not meander. Panopticon, paying affectionate homage to everyone from Jorge Luis Borges to Aldous Huxley to Jim Thompson to J.G. Ballard, is in this sense a mildly futuristic science-fiction novel written by someone who can actually write. Unbridled Books, which puts out a handful of beautifully packaged literary novels of this sort every year, continues to keep the lights flickering in a culture that is growing dimmer by the minute."--The Globe and Mail "An ethereal, well-crafted, and quietly disturbing novel, a book that slices creepily through its characters' pasts to uncover aspects of a technologically warped present that are equally riveting and unnerving because of their pervasiveness. It's a story about a journalist from the California borderlands whose life has been sucked up and morphed by the Internet and the geeks who control it. The dusty and scalded landscape of Blood Meridian choked by the icy, collectivist arm of Nineteen Eighty-Four. It's a trip."--The Brooklyn Rail

ISBN: 9781609530020
ISBN-10: 1609530020
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 384
Published: 5th November 2010
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.3  x 3.18
Weight (kg): 0.68

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