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- Published on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 08:56
- Written by Seregil of Rhiminee
David A. Colón's The Lost Men: An Allegory was published by Elsewhen Press in March 2012. The Lost Men: An Allegory is David A. Colón's debut novel.
Here's information about David A. Colón:
David Colón is an Assistant Professor of English at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, USA. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, he received his Ph.D. in English from Stanford University and was a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in English at the University of California, Berkeley. His writing has appeared in numerous journals, including Cultural Critique, Studies in American Culture, DIAGRAM, How2, and MELUS..
Here's a description of The Lost Men: An Allegory:
In a world where the human population has been decimated, self-reliance is the order of the day. Of necessity, the few remaining people must adapt residual technology as far as possible, with knowledge gleaned from books that were rescued and have been treasured for generations. After a childhood of such training, each person is abandoned by their parents when they reach adulthood, to pursue an essentially solitary existence. For most, the only human contact is their counsel, a mentor who guides them to find 'the one', their life mate as decreed by Fate. Lack of society brings with it a lack of taboo, ensuring that the Fate envisioned by a counsel is enacted unquestioningly. The only threats to this stable, if sparse, existence are the ‘lost men’, mindless murderers who are also self-sufficient but with no regard for the well-being of others, living outside the confines of counsel and Fate.
Is Fate a real force, or is it totally imagined, an arbitrary convention, a product of mankind’s self-destructive tendency? In this allegorical tale, David Colón uses an alternate near-future to explore the boundaries of the human condition and the extent to which we are prepared to surrender our capacity for decisions and self-determination in the face of a very personally directed and apparently benevolent, authoritarianism. Is it our responsibility to rebuke inherited ‘wisdom’ for the sake of envisioning and manifesting our own will?
A REVIEW OF DAVID A. COLÓN's THE LOST MEN: AN ALLEGORY
The Lost Men is an interesting debut novel. It belongs to a category called "something different", because it can be categorized both as near-future/post-apocalyptical science fiction and literary fiction. I think that the best way to categorize this novel is to say that it is in equal parts philopsophical literary fiction and speculative fiction, because it gives the reader an idea what can be expected when he/she begins to read this novel.
It was a pleasure to read The Lost Men, because I liked the author's writing style. The prose was descriptive and the philosophical thoughts about fate and happenings were intriguing. In my opinion everything was in balance in this novel, because the author had found a nice way to combine science fiction and literary fiction - the result is an enjoyable and thought-provoking reading experience.
The story is set approximately 200 hundreds years in the future (to be exact, the year is 2206). The story started slowly and it was easy to follow what happened to Mann and Faith. After a while the story became more complex, because the author began to explore their lives and things related to fate. This added depth to the story.
In my opinion the author wrote amazingly well about the lives of Mann, Faith, Joy (Mann's counsel) and Paine (Faith's counsel). I enjoyed reading about what they did and what happened to them. The author's descriptive style made their problems and feelings come to life.
It was interesting that a counsel help people to find their life mates. Mann and Faith's trust in their counsels was fascinating, because they trusted them almost blindly (the society has changed quite a lot during the last decades and counsels are important to adult people who live alone). The author explored fate and how counsels worked with it in an interesting way, because everything wasn't as simple as it seemed to be.
The post-apocalyptical elements were handled well. The author didn't reveal everything, which was nice, because it made the atmosphere a bit mystical. It was interesting to read how the world had changed and how the people lived in the new world.
The name of this novel comes from the lost men. According to the book the lost men are people who act differently and violently towards other people and have no conscience. They're almost like humans, which have been stripped off all the kindness and goodness which makes us human beings.
The Lost Men can be understood and analyzed in several ways. It can be seen either as a warning, because it shows how our lives can change dramatically (in this novel the civilization has collapsed, humankind has undergone a psychic transformation, counsels help people to find their life mates etc) or as a philosophical novel about the human condition. It can also be seen as a different kind of a love story, because the counsels help people to find "the ones".
The Lost Men isn't an easy novel. It's far from easy, so if you're looking for easy entertainment, you won't find it here. This novel is a quality novel, because it will make you think about things. I think that readers who want to read something which requires a bit of brain-work will be very delighted to read this novel, because the reader has to know a few things about culture and society in order to fully understand certain things.
As many people are probably aware of, there are readers who tend to overlook speculative fiction, because they feel that speculative fiction can't be compared to literary fiction. This is a shame, because there are several novels which are just as good as those novels which are considered to be literary fiction (in several cases speculative can actually be a lot better than literary fiction). The Lost Men is a good novel, which is worth reading, so I hope that people will have enough courage and interest to read it.
Although I enjoyed reading The Lost Men, I have to mention that it may not be to everybody's liking. It's possible that readers, who aren't interested in philosophical and allegorical novels (or have never read them), may find this novel a bit boring and difficult to get into. In other words, depending on your taste in literature, you'll either like or dislike this novel.
I've read lots of good speculative fiction during the last couple of months, so The Lost Men is a nice addition to the list of novels I've read. It's a fascinating and sophisticatedly written debut novel, which can be recommended to everybody who likes beautifully written stories.