“Panopticon” by David Bajo is a fictional book which tells the story of three journalists who are sent to cover one final story before their newspaper closes. The setting is on the California / Mexico border and takes place the near future where every move you make is being recorded by public cameras.
At first I didn’t know what to think about this book, but the more I thought about it the more I liked it. I will not say it was an easy read, it wasn’t. I had to go back and re-read several passages or paragraphs to make sure I understood where the story was going to – but I’m glad I did.
The central idea of video being spliced from public cameras, using one person as a central figure without their knowledge, is a very interesting concept, which I can certainly see happening. The book is peppered with Spanish words, but the reader is able to figure them out from the context, or they are explained a few paragraphs down the page.
In “Panopticon” the author gets the eerie, dreamlike feeling across very well. The book is well written, there is not a word out of place. The book reads almost like one of those nightmares where you want to wake up but you cannot. The reader must read this book carefully, as it is a tight woven narrative where one could easily get lost.
Reporter Aaron Klinsman goes on assignment with his friend / lover / photographer Rita Valdez to an abandon California motel where there is a woman’s body imprinted on the bed sheets. The motel room is strangely decorated with towels over the mirrors and black tape covering the doorknobs. Together with their newspaper colleague Oscar Medem they are trying to uncover the mystery.
What the three friends discover accidentally is that someone is taking images fr om the public cameras and make movies “vidas” which they star in. Complete with a jazzy soundtrack and a storyline. As it turns out, there is a whole subculture built around vidas which is being unfolded as the story moves along.
this sounds damn good. i feel like it was on my must read list and fell off somehow/sometime
congrats to the winner, i hope they become paranoid and smile often knowing they are under scrutiny 🙂