Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pharmacology--a novel by Christopher Herz

If you've read this blog for some time you may remember my friend, author Christopher Herz and his novel, The Last Block in Harlem. Christopher is a true blue writer friend, the kind I can email when I'm wondering what it all means, or if I'll ever write a decent sentence again. And he's also the kind of guy who's elated for other authors when things are going well for them. He's got a fun personality and a ton of energy. An email from Christopher always gives me a lift, and of course it's been fun to keep in touch and share our respective writing progress.

Christopher's second novel, Pharmacology, was released the beginning of December, and I couldn't wait to read it because our editor told me that it was an incredible novel. The word "genius" might have even been used. 

Okay, so this is where I have to be completely honest. I hope Christopher and I are still friends after he reads this, because--I wasn't completely sure I loved the book at first. The title sounded sort of textbookish to me, and the writing style was different from his first novel, and there were some plot points that made my delicate sensibilities a little uncomfortable.  

But I kept reading because I wanted to see where the story was heading and what it all meant. I was at least halfway through the book when I realized why the novel was narrated the way it was, and where it was going (or at least where I thought it was going). Oh, and the title is perfect, in retrospect. When I finished, I understood why the novel was labeled genius. It all seemed so random up close, like the painting Ferris Bueller looked at in the museum. I had to take several steps back to figure it out.

If you like my books because there's nothing too objectionable, and you like happy endings, Pharmacology may not be for you. But, if you're a fan of Chuck Palahniuk, Haruki Murakami, or Dean Bakopoulos, you'll love this novel. I suspect book clubs will be strongly divided, and there will be a lot to discuss.

--If your book club does select Pharamacology, Christopher is available to visit by phone or Skype.

Here's the description of the novel:

1993. San Francisco. The digital and pharmaceutical industries are booming. They're looking for the young, the hip, and those on the counterculture fringe to be both the face and consumer of their new world order. Recruited by an advertising agency focused on targeting a new drug to her own age demographic, Sarah Striker is grateful for the steady income, but begins to question the side effects of the products she's pushing.

Sarah begins publishing an underground 'zine to expose the secrets behind the pharmaceutical industry's aims. Fulfilled by her quest to spread the truth, her new life seems to be working out perfectly--until she realizes that she herself is perilously close to becoming a victim of this new corporate world.

A kinetic, hyper-stylized jolt of pure energy, Herz delivers a strong follow up to his debut novel, The Last Block in Harlem. Full of vibrant characters and razor-sharp dialogue, Pharmacology captures the voice of the Internet generation with style, heart, and soul.

Pharmacology by Christopher Herz. Not a textbook. Check it out.


Bill B said...

OK -- based on your [honest & trusted] description, some reviews, and the fact that I liked Christopher's last book -- Pharmacology is on my TBR list. It does sound like it'll make for some interesting book club discussions!

Karen McQuestion said...

Bill, on behalf of Christopher, thank you for checking out his book!

Anonymous said...

Just clicked on a sample--I'm always open to trying something different!


Christina said...

Christina - - I reviewed Pharmacology (when it came out) at Book Room Reviews. It's actually intended to expose the way corporations sometimes go about getting information to sell their drugs (even making people think they have illnesses they may or may not have). I think Christopher Herz is the kind of writer who will write differently every time he writes a book. The way he talks about San Francisco in the 70s and 80s is not entirely how I remember that era (but of course I wasn't living in San Francisco then, so I don't know what happened there!). An interesting book, though!

Karen McQuestion said...

Hey Christina! I see we're in agreement about the book. It's actually kind of scary when you think about the influence the drug companies have on all of us. I recently met a guy who hasn't been to a doctor in 30 years because "they'll just find something wrong with me and I feel fine." He's onto something, I think.