Big Machine

A Novel
Narrated by: Sean Crisden
Length: 12 hrs and 13 mins
4 out of 5 stars (58 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Ricky Rice is a middling hustler with a lingering junk habit, a bum knee, and a haunted mind. A survivor of a suicide cult, he scrapes by as a porter at a bus depot in Utica, New York, until one day a mysterious letter arrives, summoning him to enlist in a band of paranormal investigators comprised of former addicts and petty criminals, all of whom had at some point in their wasted lives heard what may have been the voice of God.

Infused with the wonder of a disquieting dream and laced with Victor LaValle's fiendish comic sensibility, Big Machine is a mind-rattling mystery about doubt, faith, and the monsters we carry within us.

©2009 Victor LaValle (P)2017 Tantor
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

nice narrator, story is ...meh

Pros:
I think Lavalle is good with metaphors. That is his strength. A few times he writes something that makes you think. I definitely wasn't able to predict the ending.

Cons:
I kind of feel like the writer just wrote without plotting anything, so you get a thoroughly directionless story. There is also excessive flashbacks, slow action, a confusing plot and a main character that behaves unrealistically. Worse--the writer writes about killers, druggies, cults and hookers but it is done in such an unconvincing way that the scenes come off cheesy, almost like a parody.

The writer dedicates too much time to flashbacks that could've been compressed to 3-4 flashbacks, and he doesn't spend enough time providing background to prepare the reader for some of the weird stuff that happens at the end of the story.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Victor LaValle is good. Real good.

Have you ever known failure so deep, it feels biological?”

I like Victor LaValle. The dude is crazy good. I didn’t read anything about this one prior to picking and digging right in. I don’t really need to with LaValle. I know it is going to be weird, interesting, entertaining and smart. I also know that most of the time I won’t know wtf is going on or where it’s going. The only thing I’ll know for sure is that it won’t be what I think it is…and that’s a good thing.

Cockeyed gospels, soul eating cats, chaffing nipples, heavenly voices, churches made from Clay and an epic road trip with the Grey Lady.

There were elements and concepts here that were truly superb and others that felt a little forced and flat. I still liked it though. Not my favorite of Victor’s, but even that is better than a lot of guys (gals) can do.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A massive, beautifully written waste of time!

I don’t know what it was about, so I don’t know if it was executed well. It’s one of those book where you wait and wait for that one thing that will make this all make sense....and it never comes. LaValle can certainly write. But what he writes about, the people and the situations only make sense in his head.

Save a credit and find something that makes sense.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Peters out at the end

The story had me fully engaged until the end. I was ultimately left with frustration, due to loose plot threads.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Doubt is a big machine.

Really enjoyed this. Reminded me a lot at points of Murakami's, "Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World." Kind of wacky at points, but very good.