"Spanning the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I, this novel moves from the labor troubles in Colorado to turn-of-the-century New York, to London and Gottingen, Venice and Vienna, the Balkans, Central Asia, Siberia at the time of the mysterious Tunguska Event, Mexico during the Revolution, postwar Paris, silent-era Hollywood, and one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all. With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred.
The sizable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics, and stage magicians, spies, detectives, adventuresses, and hired guns. There are cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi, and Groucho Marx.
As an era of certainty comes crashing down around their ears and an unpredictable future commences, these folks are mostly just trying to pursue their lives. Sometimes they manage to catch up; sometimes it's their lives that pursue them.
Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what they're doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it is not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two. According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction.
Let the reader decide, let the reader beware. Good luck.
Much as I wanted to love love love Mason & Dixon, it just never hit the spot for me, even though I was very excited in the weeks before it came out. Some of the Olde English tricks and invisible duck jokes and colonial schmutz blah blah never dripped into my brain pan in the great mental gardening system method that is the usual TPynch experience. Then again, I prolly wasn't smoking enough pot when I *tried* to read it the first three (3) times. Made it to around page 400 or so. Another shot at it before December? Pretty likely. After all, "Entropy", just a bare few pages of short story, pretty much did change my intellectual life 85% or more back in, oh, 1993?
But this NEW one sounds like some heavy zeitgeist-prix-fixe Gravity's Rainbow type blow up the sets and leave all dem shook shit. These times demand the action of true paranoids, negate-o-trons, deep water float-ees kicking legs close to the edge to keep from going under and other oddsmiths in the post-BBQ rictus shell of American dreams circa Ought Six. Heavy sacks of turd-en-flame (don't know no French) on the front porches of all the mighty and doomed should be, like, part of the ten day forecast. Against The Day indeed. Read that description again up above and tell me you don't feel some foreshocks....that the 110 doesn't look mighty perilous up Pasadena way.
I'm sure Thomas Ruggles is still a fisherman casting lines to yank our souls out of the muck.