Cover image for We can save us all
Title:
We can save us all
ISBN:
9781944700768
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Los Angeles, CA : The Unnamed Press, [2018]
Physical Description:
363 pages ; 23 cm
Summary:
Welcome to The Egg, an off-campus geodesic dome where David Fuffman and his crew of alienated Princeton students train for what might be the end of days: America is in a perpetual state of war, climate disasters create a global state of emergency, and scientists believe time itself may be collapsing.
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Book SciFi/ Fantasy Nemet
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Summary

Summary

"Nemett's wondrously fresh novel positively bursts with charm, heart, and invention." -- Booklist , Starred Review
Welcome to The Egg, an off-campus geodesic dome where David Fuffman and his crew of alienated Princeton students train for what might be the end of days: America is in a perpetual state of war, climate disasters create a global state of emergency, and scientists believe time itself may be collapsing.
Funded by the charismatic Mathias Blue and fueled by performance enhancers and psychedelic drugs, a student revolution incubates at The Egg, inspired by the superheroes that dominate American culture. The arrival of Haley Roth--an impassioned heroine with a dark secret--propels David and Mathias to expand their movement across college campuses nationwide, inspiring a cult-like following. As the final superstorm arrives, they toe the line between good and evil, deliverance and demagogues,the damned and the saved.
In this sprawling, ambitious debut, Adam Nemett delves into contemporary life in all of its chaos and unknowing. We Can Save Us All is a brave, ribald, and multi-layered examination of what may be the fundamental question of our time: just who is responsible for fixing all of this?


Author Notes

ADAM NEMETT has written award-winning business history books and directed campaigns for Lockheed Martin, Brooks Brothers, City of Hope, Huntington Bank, Adobe, HarperCollins, 21st Century Fox and Pfizer, among others. WE CAN SAVE US ALL is his first novel. Adam is the creative lead at The History Factory, the writer/director of the independent feature film, The Instrument, and co-founder of the educational nonprofit, MIMA Music. He graduated from Princeton University, received his MFA from California College of the Arts, and now lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. Find him at www.AdamNemett.com


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Nemett's imaginative debut, a group of troubled Princeton students gather off campus in the near future at the Egg, an off-campus research building named for its domelike shape. Thoreau-quoting and insecure in his masculinity, the wimpy David Fuffman is the most recent addition to the Egg, and he joins a handful of other boys who don't fit neatly into the Princeton ecosystem. They're led by Mathias Blue, an enigmatic rich kid who has shaped the Egg into both a safe haven for boys like David and something of a bunker for doomsday, which feels imminent. As blizzards, trade wars, and actual warfare ravage the world, the residents of the Egg adopt superhero personas in an attempt to do good (while on performance-enhancing drugs) by creating a 90-day "spectacle" of events meant to combat evil (mostly within themselves). As their collective, called the Unnamed Supersquadron of Vigilantes, grows more ambitious, both in their actions and in their public profile, they're joined by Haley Roth, David's high school drug dealer and current crush, with whom he shares an uneasy history. Fiery, funny, and fearless, Haley is the real standout of the novel-especially compared to the mopey David-and readers will wish she'd been given narrative precedence and a less clichéd backstory. Still, Nemett's refreshing and high-energy novel has the heart and moral tension of a superhero story and the growing pains of a bildungs- roman. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Nemett's incredible debut follows David Fuffman, a comics-obsessed freshman at Princeton in 2021 who is indoctrinated into a small cadre of oddball students by Mathias Blue, an extremely wealthy student who funds projects designed to help others during the impending climate crisis. Along with the very real extreme snow and rain, Nemett's near future highlights what the realities of climate change could be, including the fringe theory, chronostrictesis, which suggests time is compressing and changing, and which is gaining traction. At their wonderfully weird home, The Egg, David and Mathias create a place for others to unlock their inner superhero costumes, aliases, and all to help combat the coming theoretical apocalypse. The novel switches between the perspectives of David, or Infrared, and his old high-school crush, Haley Roth, also at Princeton. As their group grows into a ridiculous cult, and it becomes unclear what is real, there are numerous staggeringly imaginative set-pieces involving a striking cast of characters. With a preapocalyptic setting like that of Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story (2010) and soaked in hallucinogens in a way that recalls Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! Trilogy, Nemett's wondrously fresh novel positively bursts with charm, heart, and invention.--Alexander Moran Copyright 2018 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

A SOLITARY WOMAN in her 20s stands outside of the Juicy Couture flagship shop in Midtown Manhattan, watching a salesperson fold a "candy rainbow" of velour tracksuits. A superstorm and fever epidemic have decimated New York, but the shopkeeper, who is missing half of her jaw, folds with rote acuity. Candace, the protagonist of Ling Ma's debut novel, "Severance," is frequently enraptured while observing the routines of those around her. "You could lose yourself this way," Candace says, "watching the most banal activities cycle through on an infinite loop. It is a fever of repetition, of routine." Five days per week, Candace's own regimen involves walking unemployed through the city, her mind "drained until empty." Keeping her own proverbial business hours, she wafts through the streets propelled by a "deep, grim satisfaction." In the evening, as people traipse home, she chronicles their "hanging spider ferns in wicker baskets, calico cats lounging on throw pillows," and wonders if she could live indefinitely in this liminal state - just imagining herself into the lives of others. Eventually Candace begins a job in an office, and it's at this point that a pulsing refrain begins: "I got up. I went to work in the morning. I went home in the evening. I repeated the routine." Work is trancelike and Candace submerges herself in it. At her swank publishing company, she's overseen the production of so many Bibles that she instinctively dissociates the holy book into its components, "disassembling it down to its varied, assorted offal." "Severance" offers blatant commentary on "dizzying abundance" and unrelenting consumption, evolving into a semi-surreal sendup of a workplace and its utopia of rules, not unlike Joshua Ferris's "Then We Came to the End." Ma revivifies this model. Set against the backdrop of a catastrophic illness - Shen Fever, which results in a "fatal loss of consciousness" - the novel draws a circle around the lives of Candace's office cohort and the fever-stricken. Both live in an "infinite loop" that marks them as "creatures of habit, mimicking old routines and gestures they must have inhabited for years, decades." Candace's uninfected state is not all that divorced from that of the fevered, who exist in an interstitial stage of "residual humanity." But laced within its dystopian narrative is an encapsulation of a first-generation immigrant's nostalgia for New York, a place where, as Candace notes, "most people have already lived, in some sense, in the public imagination, before they ever arrive." Ma conjures the expat protagonist of Joseph O'Neill's "Netherland," who argues that "we are in the realm not of logic but of wistfulness." In its most lucid moments, "Severance" evokes traces of, if not Meghan Daum in her "misspent youth," then the essay "Goodbye to All That," when a young and equally bemused Joan Didion looks at gleaming kitchens through brownstone windows, considering New York not as a place of residence but as a romantic notion: "One does not 'live' at Xanadu." Candace dips elliptically into her past, unfurling memories of her dead parents and her childhood in China. When she recalls her mother telling her stories, "her remembering elicited my remembering." Though she lingers on long after most have fled or perished, Candace eventually departs New York in a "nostalgia-yellow" taxi and joins a group of survivors who find her outside the city. "After the End came the Beginning," Ma writes in the opening line of the prologue. The cultlike group's self-appointed leader pulls on a French vanilla- scented e-cigarette and sermonizes that "the internet is the flattening of time." The survivors "theorized grandly" and Google the states of grief, "Is there a god," Maslow's pyramid. They end up living in an abandoned mall - an inversion of life in which the department stores are communal spaces and the boutiques are personal rooms. In the parallel dystopian universe of Adam Nemett's debut, "We Can Save Us All," David lives in the Egg, an off-campus end-times cult where a group of Princeton undergrads toy "with drugs and, you know, the fabric of time and stuff." The end of the world is not yet upon us, but the group is faced with both a climate emergency and something called "chronostrictesis," a condition in which time itself is running out, and only the drug Zeronal can slow down one's experience of it. A contained community of its own, the earnest "Unnamed Supersquadron of Vigilantes," hunkers down in a geodesic dome, pulsing with dogged optimism for the future world - as Mathias, its leader, says: "It's going to be our job to make that smaller world into a close-knit community." Nemett's book swerves between speculative coming-of-age fiction, a superhero story and an apocalyptic campus novel. At one point when a character describes the squad's plans, "he jumps from topic to topic. Nietzsche to chronostrictesis to education to moral determinism to his own disappearing hands." David presides over what reads at times like a Marvel movie action sequence being recounted by a stranger in the ticket line. Though the Egg's residents are hopeful about the future, Nemett's novel assumes a bleak and sophomoric inner life for these students: "Ultimately, he knew it was selfish and sexist, but he still wanted to save the day, the way superheroes do. But saving the day is so impersonal. Saving the girl, though?" Such is just one of the comicbook tropes he unflinchingly deploys throughout the book; David whispers observations like "superheroes never die" and "knowledge can become a superpower," and uses a nasty and condescending nickname (itself reminiscent of comic books) for the main female character. After sleeping with her, David declares, "They'd be together now, superheroes flying through the air." But I begrudgingly found the sincerities of both Nemett and his characters refreshing in their vulnerability: "David only and infinitely believed in" Mathias. Nemett captures a group whose unfettered exuberance is seldom found in today's novels. There's no final act in which they're heroically rescued by self-awareness; the group remains forever "masters of denial, impervious to reality." If this were a choose-your-own-disaster adventure, I'd sooner end up in the shopping mall apocalypse. Laced within Ma's dystopian narrative is an arresting encapsulation of a first-generation immigrant's nostalgia for New York. ANTONIA HITCHENS has written for The New Yorker, where she was formerly on the editorial staff.


Library Journal Review

DEBUT In this first novel, the drug-fueled, phantasmagoric environment of the college elite intersects with the cogent realities of environmental degradation. The book is built around student leader Mathias Blue's hypothesis of an impending time collapse and told from the perspective of David Fuffman, a Princeton student under Mathias's spell. After a drunken Halloween night that ends terribly for David's friend Haley, David faces a moral quandary. One of his solutions is to create the Un-named Supersquadron of Vigilantes (USV), which has a group of Mathias Blue's male housemates, including David, dressing up as invented superheroes. David and Matthias lead the USV in a well-publicized rescue of trapped residents of Pennington, NJ, snowed in by a blizzard. As the USV gains in popularity, it grows to include women, including Haley, but its antics become riskier, and Mathias Blue morphs from merry prankster to cult leader. VERDICT In the end, it's the parents who step in the clean up the mess. This is an unlikely but timely contribution to the ongoing #metoo dialog as well as humorous riposte to concerns about society and the environment. Highly recommended.-Henry Bankhead, San Rafael P.L., CA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.