This is the review of Adam Cadre's _Ready, Okay!_ that I wrote on the plane immediately after finishing. At some point I will probably edit it but I wanted to get it down first.
I just finished _Ready, Okay!_ and this is the review.

I am, despite having majored in English, not good at literary analysis. There is a little stuff I can point to if you want -- besides all the in-jokes (and there it's not always clear which is the ref and which which the reffee). You can say "okay, the people in Allen's house are like the ministers in _Varicella_, and there's Taco Junta for _I-0_, and some guy wakes up late, so that's _9:05_." But whatever. Of course the main thing this is is _Photopia_ (although given when the two works were started, this is obviously the other way around).

_Photopia_ broke up the action with fantasy cutscenes and _Ready, Okay!_ does it with wisecracks. I prefer the jokes because I like Adam's style and don't care much for warmed-over fantasy, although I expect there'll be people who won't find this book as accessible as _Photopi_a for just that reason. This is especially true in the beginning when it seems for a bit like the book will be nothing but wisecracks, a fairly daunting prospect. I'm not entirely sure there was a choice; I don't think Adam could have written a 300-page novel without putting in wisecracks.

Since I've said it's _Photopia_ I don't really need to say it's about love and contempt and the laws of physics, but it's worth repeating. The contempt is more obvious here than in _Photopia_, partly due to length, partly due to the aforementioned fact that the novel is full of snarky goodness. Certainly some passages feel like Adam is sticking up easy targets just to show what a hotshot he is at knocking them down. I don't believe there's any point in the novel where we think someone is a jerk and they turn out not to be, but there are plenty of instances of the reverse the reverse. And some people are definitely going to be turned off by the way Adam tosses around blanket condemnations like a blanket-tossing mofo.

But the reason why you should read this book isn't because of the contempt (obviously) it's because of the love. I tell you right now, I will never have a tenth as much love for anything as the characters in Adam's book are capable of feeling for each other.

And here is where he laws of physics come in, because suffering is as much a part of Adam's universe as love is, and as arbitrary as hurricanes or solar flares. The thing is, though, this is not a book about suffering, although god knows people in it suffer. This is about love.

I can't really preach about the modern novel because I don't read them. Neverthless, from what I pick up from reviews and stuff, it's generally concerned with the Problem Of Suffering: why do people suffer, how do they suffer, what makes them suffer, etc. This isn't a new trend, of course; it goes at least as far back as the book of Job. Adam is a pretty literate guy and I expect he's aware of this literary subject and just doesn't care. What he wants to write about is the Problem of Love.

Mostly when people write about Love, they do so by proxy. It's ok to show naked suffering, but love always has to be handled indirectly, ideally by having Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have a wacky misunderstanding, reconcile, and then the credits roll with a fadeout on the kiss. I assume that if Adam watches these kind of movies, they make him livid. I can't help but picture him red-faced with rage and screaming at the screen "Yes, but what happens *next*?" at the end of every movie. And the thing is, if you went to the screenwriter for "You've Got Smoochies" or whatever it is, they'd be totally baffled. "Next? Um, I guess they get married and have kids. It's not worth showing because it's an established relationship and so nothing exciting is going on." Which is yet another reason why Hollywood must die.

What Adam does is, he starts by showing an existing relationship (they're not worth showing! nothing is going on!). He spends a lot of time sketching out who the characters are and what their relationships are like. Then he slowly starts pulling away the skin, layer by layer, until we are staring at Love. Not people in love, or people making love, but Love itself.

This basically proves that I don't understand Adam, because I don't understand how anyone who has seen this (and I assume to write about it he has to at least feel an echo in himself) can still hold so many people in such contempt. It seems to me that if you had ever seen a moment of Love like the ones Adam gives in his books, you'd spend the rest of your life loving everyone on the off-chance that one of them might open up enough to give you another glimpse. But like I said, I don't understand.

And anyway, we don't get a chance to view Love for very long, because people start dying. And the thing is, we've known they're going to -- both _Ready, Okay!_ and _Photopia_ foreshadow death in the very first scene. Or, hell, they begin by telling you people are going to die. But the thing is, it's okay. The book isn't about death, it's about love. Death has to happen just like gravity does but nobody goes around writing an ode to gravity. The story details the murders, as a good chronicler should, and then goes on to what we're really interested in. We don't know why it happens and we don't care. If there's any way to cheat death, this is it: not by avoiding it but by putting it in its place as just one more entry in the long list of things that are less significant and less interesting than Love.

-d (8/21/00)