Friday, July 12, 2013

The Association, by Bentley Little

(pb; 2001)

From the back cover:

"Congratulations, Barry and Maureen:  You've been approved by the Association and are encouraged to move into our exclusive gated community as soon as possible.  Please be aware that we reserve the right to approve your décor, your landscaping, your friends and your job.  All relationships with neighbors should be avoided.  Any interference from the outside will not be tolerated.  Any attempt to leave will be stopped.  Any infraction of the rules could result in severe fines, physical punishment or death.  Please send all other inquiries to the house on the hill.  Preferably before dark.  P.S. You're being watched.  Sincerely, The Association."


The first quarter of The Association is good, well-written, character solid, with smart, semi-satirical touches of humor thrown into the mix.  Somewhere between that first quarter and midway through, it becomes ridiculous - pet murders, and mutilated homeless people pop up, and everyone pretends like that's normal.  Then, home invasions, audio and visual surveillance inside and outside the homes, "mysterious" disappearances and murders of residents and visitors, as well as overt threats of physical violence. . . and the residents of this gated community do don't anything until it's way too late.  In short: this overly long novel suffers from a case of Plot Convenient Stupid People Move Into New Homes and Are Afraid to Leave, Despite Obvious/Repeated Threats to Their Lives.

Given the timing and location of the novel (2001, Utah), it feels like Little is making a quirky Grand Statement about the United States.  While that ambition is admirable, especially with its aforementioned humor,The Association should have been written as a character-smart, plot-trimmed novella, not a full-length novel.

Good writer (I've read other works by Little), crappy novel. 

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