May 2012

Blueprints of the Afterlife

by Ryan Boudinot

Central Question: How can a dystopian novel resemble a dessert?
Author’s occupations: instructor in low-residency writing program; film critic for the Rumpus; Author’s favorite film director: Guy Maddin; Respective occupations of novel’s protagonists: dishwasher, film archivist, mercenary; Title of book by the character Woo Jin: How to Love People; Reason for the name German chocolate cake: the cake originally used a brand of chocolate called “German’s”; Variety of ice cream at Molly Moon’s in Seattle that readers of this novel should try: salted caramel

In this review, we will consider the new novel by Ryan Boudinot as though it were a German chocolate cake. We have arrived at this approach after having rejected an earlier one, in which Blueprints of the Afterlife was interpreted as an allegory for the author’s time working at the Microsoft corporation. Unfortunately, the author never worked for the Microsoft corporation.

Like German chocolate cake, Boudinot’s novel—his third work after the extremely promising collection of stories The Littlest Hitler and the novel Misconception—has a diverse and rich family of ingredients. We might speak of certain literary components, such as the work of Kurt Vonnegut, the work of Richard Brautigan, the work of Tom Robbins, and/or the work of Haruki Murakami; these might stand for a square of German sweet chocolate, two and a half cups of cake flour, etc. Or, while on the subject of ingredients, we might refer to the author’s coming of age in the Pacific Northwest (one-half teaspoon shortening) or his facility with all things cinematic (buttermilk).

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

—Rick Moody

Rick Moody is the author, most recently, of a collection of essays: On Celestial Music and Other Adventures in Listening (Little, Brown and Company).

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