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Dear Cyborgs: A Novel by Eugene Lim
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Dear Cyborgs: A Novel (2017)

by Eugene Lim

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I'm not one hundred percent sure what I just read, but I enjoyed this little novel anyway. There is a lot of switching back and forth between perspectives and at the end it almost becomes clear what is going on, but not quite. At any rate, I wouldn't read this novel for plot but for the numerous quotable passages within.

I have handed it off to my teenage son, who will either adore it or loathe it. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
I'm not sure how to review this. An anti-novel that fuses genre tropes from SF and mysteries with philosophy? A novel in essays? The novel's main concerns are about protest, capitalism, and art in these shitty times. In terms of its tone, it perfectly captures our internet addled era. I think it's an attempt to write a political novel in a way that is relevant to how information is disseminated now. The way through and into the concerns of this book isn't through relatable characters. The characters are kind of like ciphers, in a way; they're mainly distinguished by the things they say--monologues on the efficacy of protest, or how to make art mean something when the market is king. And so in a strange way that also works, reading this novel felt like logging onto Twitter, just a finely-curated, more polite Twitter (of leftist and artists). None of them are interested in getting into "Twitter beef" and no randos @ you out of nowhere to tell you why Trump is right. Another way this novel is better than Twitter: no journalists.

This is novel that tenderly satirises "superhero fetishism", to borrow a term that I think I saw here in someone else's review. It is also a love letter to Asian-American radicalism of the past. It tries to grapple with protest art and activism in a time where everything seems to be co-opted by the state/corporations. I was very moved by the central story of the first narrative, about two second generation immigrant kids finding and losing each other. There is a pathos underlying it, and to use an old-fashioned word, a sincere attempt at connecting threads despite the fragmentary nature of the narrative. I'm not sure if it was marketed as a "superhero adventure" or whatever, but some people seem pissy about the fact that it's not properly reverential about comics and comics culture. Clearly, it's written by a person who loves/loved comics and probably grew up with it, but who is probably also sick of the cynical way in which politics these days seem to be worked through via DC and Marvel franchises and assorted merchandise. There is a sense that our current obsession with superheroing the world is being gently held up for inspection.

Having said all that, it's a strange book. A really good strange book. Perhaps I got everything wrong about it. But I'm glad I read it. ( )
1 vote subabat | Mar 19, 2018 |
Two lonely Asian boys living in the American midwest bond over a shared love of comic books. Three superheroes meet for lunch and swap stories. A woman leaves her husband and young child and joins a protest. A mysterious supervillain named Ms. Mistleto haunts her adversary's thoughts.

There's no linear story here, no way to give a tidy synopsis of the plot. People meet and tell each other stories in which they meet someone and tell stories. I've run into descriptions of this book that compare it to reading four random comic books in a longer series, or to the act of internet browsing, where one thing leads to another and you end up reading about Japanese internment camps after starting out with a trailer from the newest Marvel movie.

This book is all about the journey, where each segment is another interesting, yet tangential off-shoot of the one before. Eugene Lim's writing is clear and direct, which makes the random nature of this short novel an enjoyable journey. And, yes, he does sort of tie everything together in the end, in a way that is both clever and suits the novel well. It's a book where the journey is the point, not the destination. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Mar 1, 2018 |
"Today's puzzler. Enforced inescapable automatic insidious complicity. On the horizon no viable just alternative and no path toward one. All proposals thus far fanciful, impossible, doomed." And so opens the story of Vu and his friend, the unnamed narrator, two Asian kids living in Ohio and feeling like outcasts at school.
Facing bigotry and xenophobia, they find solace in comic books. Up to the narrator moving out of the neighborhood, it was a run of the mill coming of age story. What happened after that, I'm not quite sure. I truly believe there is a story within these pages but the fog is so dense I wasn't able to see it. The story became confusing and ungrounded. The names of new characters were dropped but seemed one dimensional. Without connections, the remainder of the story consisted of words. If you remain for the conclusion, you may come to realize, as I did, that there is, indeed, a story within these pages. Now, that the reader feels as if there is a foundation, a second read may reveal the entire story. ( )
  Carmenere | Feb 13, 2018 |
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Epigraph
We are not machines!
-JEON TAE-IL

Catch me solving mysteries like Wikipedia Brown.
It's the future get down.
We make a sound even if nobody's around.
-DAS RACIST
Dedication
For Joanna and Felix
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Dear Cyborgs,
Today's puzzler.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"A genre-bending novel told through the witty dialogues of three superheroes in their down time discussing their origin stories and moments of protest against body and state, ultimately weaving an intimate path through notions of art, money, resistance, and friendship"--… (more)

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