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Motorman by David Ohle

February 21, 2018


I need to do a better job of tracking where some of my books come from. This one has been on my shelf for a while, and I have no idea if it was a reco from a friend or came from a review. If a reco, I’d love to go back to the person and ask why the heck they recommended it.

“The only virtue of this absolutely atrocious book is its brevity,” Kirkus Review wrote of Motorman when the book was released in 1972.

I won’t be so harsh. It’s an interesting read, though it oozes post-60s experimental fiction, like maybe it felt like there wasn’t anywhere else in the real world to go, so the author drops us into a surrealist, post-apocalyptic dreamscape that maybe made some sense to him when he scribbled this down. There were likely drugs involved. In the introduction, its suggested that Ohle was just transcribing Bukowski’s dreams. I don’t like this book enough to think about whether or not that’s a joke.

This is a kind of sci-fi noir. Moldenke, a man who has been rebuilt after an injury in the military, runs on four sheep hearts and is missing an eye. He is after two men—Burnheart and Eagleman. Eagleman, best we can tell, is a kind of mad scientist, responsible for at least one of the several moons that now circle the earth.

I won’t go on, but to say that it’s not a completely unenjoyable read. It moves along, there’s some good imagery, and the world is an intriguing, if demented, vision of the future, where fluids and organic matter play as big a role as technology. This book lies somewhere between Bukowski’s Pulp and Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, neither of which I cared for either.





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