In this obscure, yet wonderfully poetic metaphor, Theodor’s writing is artistic, warm and endearing, despite “Buy or Die”s darkly comic, somewhat disturbing subject. Although the author’s English is perfectly crafted, I suspect much of the true prose has been lost a little in translation. Yet, even in the resulting form it has an attractive, creative voice all of its own, and once I was able to level with his dry wit and surreal depiction, I started to enjoy reading it.
Set in a frightful Dystopian future, in which advertising and oppression are synonymous – each a means of enforcing the other – two men attempt to lead as ordinary a life as possible, without being driven to madness and despair by a relentlessly promotional world they can’t come to terms with. With discreet nods to works like “1984”, this book is worrying, because you suspect that (if, perhaps, to a more realistic degree) the society Ventskevitch paints is one we are not too far from now. Indeed, I did find myself wondering why he felt the necessity to set it so far into the future – portraying the year 3000 – as I genuinely feel we are on the verge, now, of the way of life he presents; a world in which even the A.I. machines are miserably hopeless, enslaved and degraded by their duty to advertise irrelevant products (you genuinely feel sorry for the car’s embarrassment), and in which the poorer we are, the less we are protected from this incessant hard selling and demographic profiling.
Furthermore, the deeper this book progresses, the harder it becomes to follow, as new peripheral characters are introduced and the dialogue is increasingly quickfire. Confusingly, almost all of what is occurring starts to become metaphorical, and not just a little obscure. I am sorry to say that the more I read, the more this book lost me, and for much of it I was disengaged.
Still, needless to say that, despite the confusion, whatever is happening, you feel it is unlikely to end well for our two protagonists, and their fate will be a dark reflection of our own. Sadly, everyday objects dictating our every behaviour and unavoidable walking advertisements following us down the street are not so far-fetched any more, and I suspect that Theodor’s preference to humourize this is actually his coping mechanism for acceptance of a depressingly imminent fact of life; it is more than these poor characters have.