Starstruck is a collection of ten interlinked narratives, each “starring” a celebrity, to dark, surreal, and often hilarious effect. Fanatical fan-boys attempt to digitally lynch a woman for daring to criticize Steve Jobs; David Beckham becomes rabidly politizised; and Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson make appearances beyond the grave. In Starstruck, Rajeev Balasubramanyam takes a scalpel to modern society, peeling back its skin to reveal the beauty, frailty, and sheer bizarreness of our species.
(Everything Living Forever Is Screaming Forever)
The devil has given Herr F eternal fame in exchange for his eternal soul. But Herr F, knowing that everything living forever is sooner or later screaming forever, is determined to squelch and squander this fame, return to obscurity, and die.
Herr F, the take of infamous musician and writer Momus on the Faust legend, is an experimental narrative about bargaining for immortality soaked in abstracted ideas of “German-language literature,” drawn mostly from English translations of twentieth-century figures like Brecht, Kafka, Rilke, Klee, Fassbinder, and Adorno. Behind the narrative is also, of course, Goethe and his (worked and reworked) Faust.
Jakob Nolte’s debut novel ALFF tells of a series of murders at the High & Low High School in Beetaville, New England. A “fencecutioner” has killed Benjamin, the head of the debate club, and sewed his corpse to a fence. The murder sets in motion a string of bizarre events in the teenagers’ lives: from the founding of the band La Deutsche Vita to the establishment of the Anachronistic Youth. After a second murder, Agent Donna Jones is summoned and is flummoxed by the seemingly unsolvable case.
In the style of a high-school mystery thriller, ALFF takes us on a breakneck journey through an imaginary America of the 1990s. The novel is driven by an irrepressible wonder and joy at American cultural imperialism, which is at a turning point between the death of Kurt Cobain and 9/11. Like the German novelist Karl May, a fantasist of the American Old West, Jakob Nolte writes about a country without the muddling interference of personal experience. The 25-year-old takes on film, TV, literature, and real life—and wins.
The book begins in spring in an unnamed town and ends in another spring in the same place with the closing of a heavy door. Or does the book end in the middle? In this text, space is less important than time. The main character is a person free of financial concerns who explores a fluid world of temporalities. Fragments, fungi, shadows, and teddy bears accompany this character, who quickly turns to the local archives as an entry point into a past world of sensibilities.
In a basement just outside Berlin is a bot. Part of the global computer network Ennoia, it sells everything that can be bought online, and grants a life of ease and plenty to a group of nerds. It has been a while since they understood how it works down to the last detail, but they know that it works, and that speculating about Ennoia is a first-rate way to challenge your understanding of the world. A young man runs errands for Fitz, the group’s ringleader, and quickly gets used to his newfound wealth—available on tap from the trading bots.
When Fitz disappears one day and the bots make a loss for the first time, a worldwide hunt begins for whoever is pulling the strings behind the network. But Vuine’s description of the world defies expectations; what emerges is a conspiracy without conspirators, a global digital tectonic system that wasn’t made by anyone. Ennoia is about a time in which abstractions and programs are the true actors, and technological singularity has long since become our reality.