December 2, 2015

Book Review: "The Way Inn" by Will Wiles

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The Way Inn, by Will Wiles

The Way Inn
By Will Wiles
Harper Perennial
Reviewed by Jason Pettus

Based on other online reviews I've seen, I can understand why Will Wiles' The Way Inn might not be everyone's cup of tea -- some people might find it a little too silly, others a little too pointless, and both these arguments are fair if you're going into the book determined not to like it. But I, on the other hand, ended up loving it quite a bit, and that's because the book is a successful combination of several different major influences: it's partly like a Douglas Coupland novel (in that it's a highly intelligent sociological breakdown of generic suburban hotel chains, and what their blandness says about us as human beings), partly like a JG Ballard story (in that this blandness is the inspiration for an existential horror story concerning our narrator hero, a professional attendee of corporate conferences who basically freelances his body to other office workers, delivering reports on what they missed and posing as them at such conventions' many meet-and-greet events), and partly like a David Lynch movie (in that this existential horror ends up having a very real science-fictiony explanation behind it, which without going into detail is kind of like a haunted-house story meeting quantum physics), all of which is meshed together in this beautiful way by Wiles so that each of the elements compliments the other, not clashes against them. In fact, there's really only one major criticism to be made of this fast-paced, always interesting book, that several of the scenes near the end suffer from what I call "Clive Barker Syndrome" (that is, on paper such scenes come off as okay, but would look ridiculously cheesy and cartoonish if anyone ever tried actually filming them); but if you can live with a climax that will sometimes make you roll your eyes a bit, the rest of this sharp, insightful novel will be right up the alley of Lost fans and the like, a philosophical look at our modern world that doubles as a pretty effective genre thriller as well.

Out of 10: 9.2, 9.7 for David Lynch fans

Read even more about The Way Inn: Official site | Amazon | GoodReads | LibraryThing | Shelfari

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, December 2, 2015. Filed under: Literature | Literature:Fiction | Reviews |