Matt Meets Vik
by Timothy Willis Sanders
Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2014
164 pages / $13.95 buy from Amazon
Or ‘Rich Meets Vik’ to review ‘Matt Meets Vik’ as Richard Brammer teams up with his girlfriend ‘Vik’ (Victoria Brown) to review this book.
1. Vik: At the end of the book, I didn’t expect it to be the end and kept turning (scrolling) the pages thinking there would be another chapter. When I realised that it was the end I was pleased at the way it ended.
2. Vik: I’m a woman so I don’t often get to hear a man’s raw thoughts. I liked that this book put me in the position to see male thoughts. I assume that they are real-ish male thoughts.
3. Rich: Shit! I haven’t started reading the book yet. I’m going to read it and find out. I’m not sure but I think I have real-ish male thoughts to compare them to, as a scientific control.
4. Vik: The book is set when Snake was a big deal on Nokia phones. I never had a Nokia, but I remember the enthusiasm Nokia owners had for Snake.
5. Rich: I had one of those Nokia’s. Before that I had a Nokia 5410 or something (in about ’95 and this was before my impoverished dispersed family had a house phone even). I loved Snake though. I was as addicted to Snake as I could’ve been to anything 2-dimensional at that time. I used to commentate to myself about my own performance on Snake like it was a sport and I was a great renowned competitor.
6. Vik: Actually I did have a Nokia phone but it was such an early Nokia that it didn’t allow you to access your address book when typing a text message so you would have to memorise the phone number of the person you wanted to text when texting. Which was terrible.
7. Rich: Shit! There’d be v apathetic riots if technology was designed like that now. My first phone had a text facility but the network ‘didn’t support it’. Should we review this book now?
8. Vik: I read this book in about 4 sittings; it is 177 pages long. I read it really quickly.
9. Vik: I’m a woman named Vik but I didn’t identify that much with the character named Vik, in fact I identified as much with the character named Matt as I did with Vik.
10. Vik: There are other characters, Chantelle, Ralph, Lucas and Esme and maybe some more.
11. Rich: Yeah I really like the mute-button and break call centre co-worker friendship between Matt and Esme. I’ve worked in those call centre jobs and had those same mute-button and break co-worker friendships but have literally never read about them in fiction and had even forgotten about them myself.
12. Vik: I’ve not thought that much about the practicalities of masturbating as a male. This book made me think of that.
13. Rich: Trickier business than you think. Some people are quite high-class and subtle and posh about it and lay pre-prepared tissue paper on their midriff as a precaution and don’t talk about it to other guys at all but others (wankers generally) just do it into a sports sock or something and then tell their younger brothers about what they did. They tell their younger brothers with a real fucking eerie pride.
14. Rich: One of the great things about this book is the very idea of it. A lot of contemporary literature is about ‘right now,’ about present day social media and present day everything, like some kind of hyperreal neverending present. There are books about the 1800s you can read and books about the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties and nineties and loads of books about right now but because of how fast telecommunications technology moves and becomes obsolete there is little time to pause and consider the differences of just a few years ago. If JG Ballard wrote fiction that was five minutes into the future then this book is an example, and a v welcome example, of fiction that is five minutes into the past. Like remember having to check your Yahoo email in a library?
15. Vik: The ‘I said (something), I thought (something else)’ device is the best fucking thing about this book. It’s really relaxing to listen to the constant contradictions of another person.
16. Rich: “So you can offer him coke but I can’t offer him weed.” This book is full of this kind of offbeat interplay that just draws the characters and the relationships between the characters and does it effortlessly with just a few simple strokes.
17. Vik: The book mentions various cultural references, here are some of them: Breathless, The 400 Blows and Charlie’s Angels, Stringer Bell, Avon Barksdale, Nokia 5160s. I can’t think of anymore.
18. Rich: I urge someone to make this book into an offbeat Mumblecore film. Do it, someone. These characters are so well drawn (‘Badly Drawn Boy’ thought Rich) that I was really worried about Matt’s bank balance after he buys a holiday and has only 90 dollars left and I continue to worry about it and about his bank balance generally long after finishing the book.
19. Vik: I think I should learn a bit more about stream of consciousness literature and then read this book again and then maybe I would appreciate this book a bit more.
20. Rich: I’d say it’s more of a v restricted narration from Matt’s point of view but oddly orchestrated from up on high by some unseen someone than a stream of consciousness thing and it has that Alt-Lit Tweet-derived trick of putting a lot of thoughts and imaginings into direct speech form. It really works well.
21. Vik: Point 19 makes me sound like I didn’t appreciate the book, I did, however, appreciate it. I really liked it.
22. Rich: Can I just show you this: “Matt said, “Big in Europe,” and pictured Woody Allen holding a lobster.” Amusing absurdist imagery, strategically placed. The whole book is, more often than not, v funny, the comic timing is impeccable but sometimes it’s a dark sad humour such as laughing at someone with OCD or who is really extremely paranoid but can’t help it. Sometimes a sad, hollow kind of laughter.
23. Vik: I laughed at this line “Matt said, “It’s nice out,” and thought, “We have nothing to say to each other.” It felt romantic to me.
24. Rich: I really like the character of Matt, I find him really sympathetic with all his worries and paranoia, he’s super 3-dimensional.
25. Rich: This is an American book that has drum and bass. I always figured it took about ten years for drum and bass to reach the States from its invention in my part of the globe. I remember it pretty much being invented coming out of hardcore rave in the early 90s and becoming big over here, even in an overground way in 1994 before being sold out and swallowed up as advert soundtrack music so my ten years theory fits with the timescale of this book’s timescale. A nostalgia kick is often what this book provides and on its own nostalgia might usually be a kind of cheap trick but this is nostalgia for things that are still somehow present but also obsolete. This is the stuff they want you to forget about in their fantasies of corporate business and remaining ‘busy’ both in your leisure time and at work and living your life with productivity apps. Remembering dead technology like this, or, at least, the shifting context of technology helps to spoil the ideologically smooth lines of corporate lifestyle capitalism. For me this is important work. More of this please!
Victoria Brown is one of the founders of the newly formed home for esoteric books ‘Slacker Press’ and it’s ‘Etc Books Series’. She is also responsible for Miniskirt Mags ‘Miniskirt of the Day’ Tumblr list (for more on that see here).
Richard Brammer is the author of three books ‘MDMA and Menthol Cigarettes’, ‘Public Dick Punk 83’ and ‘Cult Boyfriend’ that are all available from Amazon here but isn’t the author of the German version of the book about Adobe Publishing Suite and nor is he the author of ‘Cuckoos of the World’. Or just get his free PDFs from Richard Brammer is Unwell.