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Be careful what you throw away

Generation DementiaGeneration Dementia by Michael  Hartnett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Generation Dementia" is my fortunate introduction to Hartnett's writing, a unique style unfolded in this novel's plot, blending what the reader could at first assume is pure fantasy, but in reality is plausible fiction. Narrator and protagonist Hash reveals his own coming of age story in which his high school in Frick Village seems obsessed with garbage collection. Hash's personal involvement in the student program, Operation Pick-up Kids, shows his attempt to complete the void in his life through other people's garbage. Much of his fascination centers on the information gathered from a set of discarded and now obsolete computer floppy discs, the diary of newsman Levon Gallagher, who inspired Hash's own mother to begin her own blog. It is not until his mother's death that Hash reads his mother's musings and grows closer to her. The void she has left becomes obvious as he tries to fill the now empty rooms in their home with what he has pilfered from the collected garbage. Hash finds a love interest in new character, Lee Lee, just as a video of the garbage collection antics goes viral and lands the interest of a reality television network. Indeed, with its unique characterization and the subplot of sorts that Gallagher's diary offers, Michael Hartnett's story would lend itself well to an actual television series. There are both humorous aspects to the story and clever euphemisms, including my favorite piece of dialogue from protagonist Hash: "You've got the classic first day trash man syndrome. You think that there are big secrets in this trash. There aren't. There are only little, rotten, awful secrets." We all should be careful what we throw away.


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