Title: Just a Couple of Days
Author: Tony Vigorito
Published: 2001

[Spoiler warning: This review reveals basic elements of the story.]

This book has a promising premise, namely the construction of a doomsday virus that wipes out human linguistic ability. The story doesn’t conform to conventional expectations; the virus turns out to be a good thing, possibly, the unknowable next step in human evolution. This book is, in fact, a psychedelic philosophical polemic masquerading as a novel.

So far, so good. In theory, it sounds like a book Xy and I would love. In practice? Not so much.

Unfortunately the narrative comes off as smug and self-indulgent. One gets the sense that the author is way too pleased with his own cleverness. The hippie-dippie yuck factor overwhelms everything else. Given the slight plot and cardboard characters, there’s little left but style and ideas. To give a flavor of the style, here’s a fine passage from when several characters are trapped together in an elevator:

The close quarters concentrated Miss Mary’s corrosive tobacconist’s effluvium, making it all the more emphatic, and a meaty bouquet was rising out of General Kiljoy’s duodenum, or perhaps slipping silently out of the back door to mingle malevolently in an eloping liaison of fumes with Miss Mary’s flagrant fragrances.

I think I’m going to barf. Such cutesy prose abounds, especially in a recurrent intertextual motif called “The Book o’ Billet-Doux” which is so dreadful I can’t even quote it here.

That leaves little of interest except the ideas, the philosophy behind the book. These are, perhaps, interesting in their own right. I don’t know. I can’t see past the prose. The ideas would perhaps have been more pleasantly encapsulated in a short story or a novella, rather than a 385 page novel.

My recommendation: Avoid.

  1. That passage reminds me of something Florence King said about John Updike. Reading Updike, she wrote, is “….like trying to cut through whale blubber with a pair of embroidery scissors.”

  2. I. Hated. This. Book. It was on my last nerve from about the 25th page. I finished it, because I am more stubborn than sensical at times and wished violence on myself that I spent the time with this instead of something like Mathematicians in Love by Rudy Rucker…which sounds similar but I would guess is better wrtten.

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