Jul 3, 2010: Projekt Oktober has an interesting premise. A group of Editors have preserved the journals of four people involved in the mysterious Projekt. The first chapter, divided into four sections following the journals of these four narrators, sets up a scenario that one would think would never be of much interest to historical posterity, and require Editors. It’s just four people taking a road trip to deliver a vintage car to its owner.
Nick is a former reporter out of a job, and he’s hoping to get a story out of his association with Mattias, who may or may not be a criminal and has hired him to help deliver the car. Mattias is mysterious and good at manipulating people, but he likes Nick because he can persuade others even better than Mattias, and is unaware of his charm.
Jones is a musician with a talent for disguise, while Natasha is ex-KGB and dangerous. The trip to deliver the car sounds innocent enough, except that no one is supposed to look in the trunk. They could be smuggling anything, but apparently it’s going to be of some importance to history and the editors.
However, the story might never achieve that level of importance with me as a reader. The journal style means that the narrators "tell" the story in brief entries, instead of the author developing the scene to "show" characterization, description and action. I don’t like being "told" that Nick is charismatic when I don’t get to see any action that would indicate his charm.
The story flounders along like this through Nick, Mattias and Jones’ entries. The only real interesting signs of life in the story come when Jones meets Renard, an unlikely "lucky" man with some skill at sleight of hand, and then Natasha’s entry.
Renard seems like a writing device—too interesting, too intriguing, and too coincidental in how he and Jones meet. However, meeting him injects some actual described action into the scene, and hints at the writer’s deeper talents. Natasha’s entry is psychedelic—for her the car they call Katie is in fact a little girl, and Mattias is a Spider. Jones is a deaf mute, and Nick a Wordsmith. She sees the world in water colours and has bizarre thoughts.
The ideas in this story are intriguing, but the "telling" style of the journals makes it difficult to appreciate the more interesting elements. Worth checking out of if you like seeing a story from multiple perspectives, and maybe even multiple realities.
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