Author/Creator/Director Noah Hawley. You know him. You dig him. From the trippy, mind-sprawling chaos of FX’s Legion to the Coen Bros-cool re imagining of Fargo, Hawley gets deep, he gets fun, he gets weird. Following the success from his latest novel, Before The Fall, Grand Central Publishing reissued Hawley’s debut novel, A Conspiracy Of Tall Men. And man, this reads like a debut novel.
Tall Men features Linus Owen, a conspiracy theory teacher who finds himself hit with two hard truths: his wife has been having an affair, and now she’s dead. After a lifetime of living under the gun of suspicion, Linus goes looking for real answers and maybe the meaning of life. In a dazed trek across America worthy of Hunter S. Thompson, Linus seeks out an incendiary radio talk-show host, raids a big-time pharma company, is interrogated by the CIA, and comes to realize those two initial truths might be lies.
The novel, like with many debuts, starts off strong with jazzy concepts and sarcastic bites. Yet, Hawley’s deep dive into the insane grows awkward. Some of the head scratching comes not with the narrative, but the poor grammar, the confusing spans of dialogue, and a ton of sentences that nerve-rackingly begin with “it.” Eventually, Linus’ paranoia become outright silly. The deeper the conspiracies go, the less X-Files hip the read becomes as the unglamorous quickly becomes bizarre.
Hawley serves up a number of clever observations and uniquely provides background on his characters, granting even minor ones weight. Doing such, though, creates bloat. Like the conspiracies that Linus weaves out of echoes, the novel has too many false starts, too many feints, and a rushed finale. Unless that was the plan, man. The United States Corporation wants you to think this is all too silly. Right?
Nope. The read was silly, confusing, and overly long.
Thanks to Goodreads and Grand Central Publishing for the giveaway. I’m still a Noah Hawley fan and continue looking forward to his new seasons of Fargo and Legion.