On “Total Solar,” by Luke Mogelson

This is a great story, in that it puts you squarely in middle of horrific events, and it makes them seem very real. But the story seems a bit too real.

The narrator is a journalist in post 9/11 Kabul, and so was the author. All of the events are entirely plausible, including the narrator’s deafness, after a blast, before he realizes that he’s deaf. And all of the characters could have been plucked right out of the author’s notebook, including the savage Frenchman who plunges his hand into a bowl of salad after being told he should use a fork.

So what?

I want to see that he’s not only captured some of these incredible events and cultures, but has also somehow managed to synthesize them into something new, as Thomas Pynchon does exceptionally well, most notably in Gravity’s Rainbow.

I know that’s an extreme example, in that the book spins some incredibly implausible events out of historical source material, but I’d love to see Mogelson push the envelope a little in this direction, at least so as to nudge the story just out of the realm of non-fiction.

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