To be fair, I just finished this book last week. Yes, it took me that long to read the book. Yes, there is a reason. The reason? I started “Twenty-Thirty” about a week before the Occupy Wall Street protests started and while the book doesn’t completely overlap with current events they are parallel: young people angry, rich getting richer, older people not really caring as long as they get their pensions, etc.
But, let’s go back and talk about Albert Brooks’ writing style. He is brief and doesn’t spend a lot of time writing about details. I’m someone who loves it when an author really paints a picture with his words, but Brooks doesn’t focus on this. His focus in this work of fiction was really the big idea of where the United States is heading in regards to our economy. It’s a bit “1984”-ish in he describes some situations which are very big brother in essence. There are also some situations where I felt like I was reading a history about pre-WWII Germany, with all the Nazism that implies, and much of what Brooks describes is actually happening right now.
If that last sentence didn’t scare the hell out of you, you need to read more books and newspapers and get your head out of your ass.
Along with keeping the situational details to a minimum, Brooks doesn’t spend a lot of time developing characters. The story is told from well over 10 perspectives. I never felt involved with any of the characters, although I do suppose I felt some empathy for the young woman who was left with $350,000 in medical bills after her father died from a work related injury (apparently workman’s comp doesn’t exist in the future).
Brooks does allow for some humor to be intertwined in the novel, although a lot of it self-deprecating, Jewish humor (I suppose he can get away with this since he’s Jewish). Other jokes are often related to getting erections, which I suppose he can get away with since he’s a man.
As I said in my pre-review, I was hoping Brooks wouldn’t allow this book to be a dooms-day novel and would allow some optimism to shine through. He does just that…kinda. The end of the book is probably the most brilliant part of the entire novel because Brooks does show the reader a “solution” but doesn’t really tell how the solution work out. The ending is open-ended and it’s up to the reader to figure out if they think the resolution will end up good or bad (I still don’t know how I feel about it).
I’d recommend this book because it’s a good mirror of what is happening right in front of us. Brooks’ novel helped me remove myself from what I was seeing (or not seeing) on CNN and view it from a different perspective (or 10 perspectives). While stylistically it isn’t my cup of tea, I think it’s a book that may just help people of all ages and groups understand a different perspective.