I received an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Darkfuse is not a cookie cutter publisher. They do not trot out one formulaic horror or noir story after another. To be sure, every book is not a piece of experimental literature—they do publish their fair share of traditional genre fiction. But they also take chances on stories that are a bit different and may not appeal to all readers. Factory Town is such a novel.
Reading it reminded me of watching some indie movies where you have to pay close attention or you can quickly get lost. Amores Perros, Memento, even Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels come to mind. A reader friend mentioned David Lynch—which is really a spot-on comparison.
Factory town does not give you a linear plot. The story line reveals itself through constant shifts in time from the protagonist’s horrific childhood, his adult breakdown, the last moments of his life, and this nightmarish journey of self discovery—a fugue sequence that embodies most of the story. Characters are shifting and many of the main characters are dually or triply represented at different times of their life (or potential life) by different characters.
Factory Town is both a real place and the fugue sequence stage which is entirely internal to the main character. It reveals rather than narrates. This is a “writer’s” book, if there is such a thing. It will appeal to fans of Borges or Garcia-Marquez and other magical realists. There are plenty that won’t like it at all.
Where do I fall on this spectrum? Frankly, I don’t know. I just finished the book and this is the type of novel that takes a few days or more to fully absorb. I am going to give it four stars. For now. I may come back and change my rating next week. I will say that I am glad that I read it, I found it challenging but also rewarding, and I appreciate the author’s seriousness and his talent, as well as Darkfuse for publishing such a challenging work that they knew might not appeal to everyone.
My only advice to a reader is to take it slow. The answers are all in there. Connect the dots and a very dark picture will appear.