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What happens when you are fucked off with everything but have just enough energy/hope/insanity left to try and shift direction.

October 18, 2010 \pm\31 8:03 pm

Is what I think The Insurgent by Noah Cicero is about. In another sense it is about the many different ways we humans have of being fucked. How we are differently and similarly fucked by our circumstances, how recognizing fuckedness can paralyze or be catalyst or be both or be one one day and the other the next or make you so confused and bereft you just need to drive off somewhere.

But it is not overly bleak as all that because at its heart and for all its criticism of society there is a love of us people and a sadness for us and a true, desperate, childish belief in friendship. Like when you were eight or twelve and you graduated from spit brothers to blood brothers and you were inseparable, The Insurgent believes that a solid human connection can make things more bearable which makes me smile because when I think of an insurgent I think of a loner but that’s dumb right, because insurgence needs support, needs numbers, to swell.

That doesn’t mean to paint The Insurgent as an emo-let’s-hold-hands-everything-will-be-okay-all-you-need-is-love type bullshit story with a tidy conclusion. By the end essentially nothing’s changed but we characters and reader are still transformed because also everything’s been changing. Just like the problem with life itself which often seems like a lot of the same all the time but things are constantly shifting this way or that until they end, aren’t they.

There is a scene in the book which I don’t want to describe because it makes me teary but also because I think it is one of those moments in a story and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone that hasn’t read it that might. It’s the scene where [character takes certain painful yet hopeful action] and that has become a shorthand for me of sorts, whenever something makes me catch that feeling again I go, Oh man, this is a total [character takes certain painful yet hopeful action] moment. That’s one way The Insurgent has infiltrated me.

Notice I’ve not gone on about the mechanics of the book, the way it is written or anything. I guess there are things to say about the direct conversational style, about the forward motion of it, about what it says about America, about the jokes, and oh my god, it is very funny. The cover is quite beautiful too but the type design is not especially. At seventeen quid the price was high for me, it is riddled with typos (the printing I have anyway) and has a continuity error I think (spotted after the second or third of my many readings). But fuck it if none of that matters anything whatever. In fact aside from the price, it all only added to the book’s irreverent punky charm.

I am different for having read this book. I know it seems a hyperbolic cliché to say that but I feel it so I’m saying it. Obviously the how is always hard to pinpoint but I guess I have been unsettled by it. Certain life elements, like the things mentioned above (friendship, [painful yet hopeful action], change, fuckedness) are things that are always in the undercurrent but The Insurgent swelled them right up into my throat like crying. It made me lay them bare open and the thinking hurt, sometimes in that good growing way and sometimes in that just fuck that really fucking hurts way.

  1. October 20, 2010 \pm\31 3:45 pm 3:45 pm

    Thanks for this review. Cool video clip. I also wrote a review of Noah Cicero’s THE INSURGENT for anyone interested:

  2. October 23, 2010 \pm\31 3:15 pm 3:15 pm

    I love Noah Cicero. I love Ani Smith. Funny to find this review.


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