Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Book review : American Weather - Charles McLeod

I read a lot of books and most of the time, I either love or hate them. American Weather was a bit of a strange one because it left me largely indifferent. Even after digesting it for a couple of days, I can't decide if I really liked it or not.

That's not to say I didn't find it interesting. In fact, I thought that there were some very interesting plotlines thrown in as mere sidelines that just weren't developed - the story of the rich boys (cynically dubbed the Bleach Boys) diving in the heavily polluted lake, the wife in a coma, the son's girlfriend with the hereditary illness, the immigrants' village, Mr Hand's boys' home ... so many sinister or saddening tales that could have really added some emotion and intensity to the first three quarters of the book that, I have to admit, I found rather bland.

But that is probably the whole point. American Weather, which is the name of central character Jim Haskin's ad agency, is a biting satire of modern America where nothing matters except the almighty dollar. People, their emotions and sad little lives are mere playthings or pawns to be used in the quest for power and money (which, ultimately, are the same thing). At times, I found myself smirking at the shameless celebrity name-dropping and cynicism and at other times, I found myself feeling uncomfortable, recognising the hint of truth behind the provocatively shocking storylines.

The "main event" of the book, which I won't tell you about as it would wreck it, is mindblowingly horrific, not only because corporate greed has totally replaced any notion of humanity in the world, but also because it is not too great a stretch of the imagination to actually imagine it happening some time in the not too distant future. I did feel that it was a long time coming though. Just reading the final few chapters as a short story without wading through the first couple of hundred pages where - to be frank - not a lot happens would actually give it greater impact.

I can see this being studied as part of a university cursus about the modern world and the power of advertising, where it could be picked apart and analysed in great detail, but for the average reader who wants an entertaining read, it's a bit slow and lacking in action. As thought-provoking satire, it's very successful but if you want a feel-good bit of escapism, it definitely won't be your thing.

star rating : 3/5

RRP : £12.99

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker (2 Jun 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1846553334
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846553332

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  1. Hmmm, sounds like it had potential but could have been more enjoyable

  2. Sounds interesting - but having trouble getting into anything at the moment so maybe not for me!

  3. Good review, don't think I'd have the patience to get to the end though! Might borrow it from the library and read the last few chapters out of curiosity :D


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