Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Panopticon by David Bajo (review)

PanopticonProduct Description

As the California borderland newspaper where they work prepares to close, three reporters are oddly given assignments to return to stories they ve covered before each one surprisingly personal. The first assignment takes reporter Aaron Klinsman and photographer Rita Valdez to an abandoned motel room where the mirrors are draped with towels, bits of black tape cover the doorknobs, and the perfect trace of a woman s body is imprinted on the bed sheets. From this sexually charged beginning on land his family used to own Klinsman, Rita, and their colleague, Oscar Medem understand that they are supposed to uncover something. They just don t know what. Following the moonlit paths their assignments reveal through the bars, factories and complex streets of Tijuana and Otay, haunted by the femicides that have spread westward from Juarez, the reporters become more intimately entwined. Tracing the images they uncover, and those they cause and leave behind, they soon realize that every move they make is under surveillance. Beyond this, it seems their private lives and even their memories are being reconstructed by others. Panopticon is a novel of dreamlike appearances and almost supernatural memories, a world of hidden watchers that evokes the dark recognition of just how little we can protect even our most private moments. It is a shadowy, erotic novel only slightly speculative that opens into the world we all now occupy.

About the Author

David Bajo was raised on the California-Mexico border and has worked as a journalist and translator. He is the author of The 351 Books of Irma Arcuri and teaches writing at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where he lives with his wife, the novelist Elise Blackwell, and their daughter.
My take on this book:
With their newspaper folding in a couple of days the managing, Gina, has three of the reporters return to stories that they have reported on before, and once Gina gives the assignment she sort of vanishes.

Reporter Aaron Klinsman goes to an empty motel where the outline of a womans body is imprinted on the bed sheets along with black tape strips placed in various places aournd the room, making it almost look like a crime scene, unsure what to make of it he has a photographer, Rita Valdez, who works for the same paper go back to the motel with him, she takes several pictures but still neither are sure what it means. They soon draw another reporter in with them, and with time being of the essence because the motel is slated to be torn down will the trio be able to figure out whether it is actually a staged crime scene or something else.

There  have been numerous femacides that have taken place for years and they wonder if the motel room may somehow tie into that, finding several clues but not sure how it ties together, will they be able to figure it out?

Panopticon talked alot about how cameras are everywhere, how with modern technology we are captured on film more that we even know, which is really creepy when you think about it.
 This book was really slow to start for me, almost feeling like the story was sort of disconnected but it soon starts falling into place and became a book that held my attention. The same thing happened with the characters the more I read the more I liked them, I think Aaron's character was my favorite, surviving a snakebite that most people die from and then dealing with insomnia most of his life made me really sympathize with him.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a book that really gets into your head, and makes you work for the story.
Thanks to Unbridled books for providing me a reveiw copy, the opinions expressed are my own.

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