A NovelBook - 2008
Not since Don DeLillo and George Saunders has a writer caught the humor and irreverent seriousness of our time like Barkan has through his protagonist Paul Berger, a flawed hero whose so-called fate drives him toward enlightenment just as surely as it propels him to destruction. Berger is stunned when he receives an ominous palm reading from a savvy guru at a health retreat in Iowa, of all places. And now it seems the prophecy is coming true. His fiancée, who is about to leave him, is shot at a historic reenactment of the Revolutionary War in Concord. One of his brothers, an astronaut, dies on 9/11 in the Pentagon. And his more famous brother, a lawyer and politician, kidnaps him in a media campaign to win an election. But is Paul’s life really controlled by fate? Or is the prophecy a lie he has latched onto ever since his band went under, leaving him almost famous yet unknowna teacher at a community college, struggling to keep his job?
Blind Speed is a wildly entertaining exploration of intersecting lives in which what happens is never solely by chance or choice. Barkan has built a uniquely American satirical novel, a thoroughly twisted journey of discovery that pops and fires from its first shot in Concord to its last rifle blast, which echoes across the heartland. With global warming, 9/11, government and corporate deceit, and ecoterrorism, the novel dives into epic ideas, capturing America in all its dangerous myths.