The Arrest caught my eye because of its premise: what if all technology, everything we rely on day-to-day, simply stopped working?
It’s the Y2K panic come to life: no televisions, no phones, no cars, no guns, no toilets(!).
Would it be a return to utopian by-gone-years? Unlikely. The blurb promised “speculative fiction at its absolute finest” and “unrepentant joy”. The fine folks at Atlantic Books (via Allen & Unwin) were kind enough to send me a copy for review.
Lethem doesn’t waste any time interrogating how or why exactly all of these features of modern life stopped working: they just don’t. His story focuses instead on Journeyman, known before the Arrest as screenwriter Alexander “Sandy” Duplessis, who survives on his sister’s farm in a tiny Maine town (and the similarities to Stephen King’s Under The Dome don’t end there).
It’s been reviewed positively elsewhere but unfortunately, for me, The Arrest didn’t hold up to the promise of its premise. It wasn’t as funny as I’d hoped, the characters were flat, and the plot was all fits and starts. It’s a post-apocalyptic pastoral-cum-steampunk fever dream which seems to end before it really begins.