10 July 2015

The Subprimes, by Karl Taro Greenfeld

New York Times review.

It's dystopian near-future fiction. America has become almost completely de-regulated, practically everything privatized. There's an enormous population of unemployed homeless, the "Subprimes" of the title, who wander the country, working as temporary labor--especially at fracking sites--and squatting in foreclosed, uninhabited housing developments. The environment has deteriorated quite a bit from the way it is now: summer has become a long, hellish season with temperatures routinely climbing into the 130s. A major character is a kind of Bernie Madoff who may be rehabilitated by a televangelist who characterizes him as a victim of progressives who wish to stymie the "job-creators." One of the skillful things that Greenfeld has done is to make this world very, very close to the one we are in. Many current cultural references are made: it's not that far in the future.

Unfortunately, I didn't much like the ending. It seemed contrived, a sort of deus ex machina thing that says, "I didn't know what to do with this plot so I did this." To me, anyway. The book was still worth reading for its dire predictions and the caution that it should raise.

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