Set in Portland, Oregon, 42 follows George Olson as his life is thrown into chaos and his mind into a possible state of psychosis. On the 42nd day of his 42nd year, Georges wife and daughter disappear, his cat and dog run away, and his house burns down. When he is accused of murdering his wife and child, George sets off in search of his family, only to be caught up in a conspiracy of numbers and strange events. The number 42 becomes the meaning of Georges life. But does the conspiracy really exist or is it the product of a paranoid mind?
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.9" Width: 5.8" Height: 1" Weight: 1.2 lbs.
Release Date Jun 1, 2008
Publisher Ooligan Press
ISBN 1932010246 ISBN13 9781932010244
Thanks to the legendary Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker's Guide series, and to a lesser degree cult-TV phenomenon "Lost," the number 42 already has quite an impressive following. I'll admit right away that it is what drew me to this title, not knowing anything about what to expect of the book itself.
I was happy to find that 42 is an introspective and ultimately maddening journey by protagonist George Thomas Olson, as he searches for his missing wife and child while battling a growing psychosis. Charged with their murder and a host of related crimes, Olson must piece together an infuriating array of what he believes are clues hidden throughout his life leading to the location of his family; clues that all lead inexplicably back to the number 42.
Cooper's first novel is cleverly written as part memoir, part narrative. The first-person, present tense narration is poetic and thoughtful at one moment, sarcastic and witty at others, and utterly maddening in others. Olson's emotions are conveyed not only through the narrative, but by clever changes in the font of the written text as well. The reader lives inside Olson's head as he goes about a daily routine thrown into chaos by the series of events following his family's disappearance. We follow Olson's transition from typical suburbanite family man, through his personal bouts with fear, apathy, and obsession, until he is merely a shell of his former self, delusional, confused, and alone.
One criticism is that the otherwise engaging story builds slowly, but finishes a little too quickly. The quick finish is arguably fitting given the narrator's deteriorating mindset as the story progresses, but still leaves the reader wanting more nonetheless. Overall, I was not overly disappointed by this minor detail, and found this thriller a fun (albeit vexing) read.