WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT
If there’s anything even definitely negative about David Shafer’s debut novel, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, it’s that across its 400+ pages things take an awfully long time to get going. However, once things do get going, you’re in danger of giving yourself papercuts from flicking the pages at an abnormally high speed in order to uncover this bizarre tale of digital paranoia Shafer concocts.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot depicts the escapades of a screwed-over medical worker, a junkie self-help author and a drunkard school teacher, all of whom inevitably give the novel a three-books-in-one feel. This motley trio come under the unwanted attention of a ruthless organization dubbed The Committee, who seeks to change how the world’s digital information sharing operates and control it for their own wicked ends.
A pulpy-sounding set-up to be sure, but it’s given a snarling, punk-ish deliverance through Shafer’s style of writing. His is a mixture of the laidback cool you aspired to be in your teen years with a freakish paranoia that fits the characters and the story marvellously. The core trio are an intoxicatingly wicked group of ruffians, who Shafer devotes miles of chapters in making sure you’re as entwined into their emotional core as possible. The plot has a jittering, stop/start rawness about it that is frustratingly exhausting to become engrossed in, but that engrossment is inevitable.
Shafer’s obsessively detailed style of writing does save Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’s unkempt manner of storytelling somewhat and stays on its feet long enough to keep you hooked. With three individual heroes across 400+ pages, it’s almost unavoidable that the novel collapses on itself somewhat, but Whiskey Tango Foxtrot rarely lets up on its entertainment drive. Coupled with the growl of a Stooges album and the heaviness of a Nolan film, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a deliciously schizophrenic blast of a read, and it may take a while to catch fire, but when it does there’s flames everywhere.
INFO: WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT / AUTHOR: DAVID SHAFER / PUBLISHER: PENGUIN / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 4TH