Anyone by Charles Soule

Collaging and kinetic sanding with Squibbish. Man-spreading to the extreme.

As previously mentioned, I’ve taken to making collages and while working on this during an art day I started cutting up the Kindle Notes I had from Charles Soule’s second novel, ANYONE. I hit upon a solution to my reading notes problem. Which is a novel about a piece of technology that is discovered outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan that allows people to transfer their consciousness into other people’s bodies. It’s called the flash, and it’s managed by NeOnet Global. Or Anyone. Here’s what I learned:

In the past I had copied my marginalia and Kindle notes into a notebook dedicated to reading notes, but that grew into a pain in the neck and I never kept up with it. It felt like double the work. But I realized, while making a collage with Squibbish, that I could cut up my Kindle notes based on specific topics like—beautiful language in Anyone. See below:

Then I thought that since I’m Generation Oregon Trail, or Xennial , I do well when I combine the digital with the analogue. So I’m not doubling up. When I do handwritten marginalia in a physical copy of a book (my preferred reading method) I’ll do a scan through the physical book after I’ve read it and summarize the points I learned in a Bear Note specific to that book and tag it Reading Notes 2020 or Diary2020/reading notes. I’ll export it as a Word document and save it to the Reading Notes folder I have in my Dropbox.

But anyway, here’s what I learned from Soule’s great second novel. I’m thoroughly enjoying his novels, and he’s probably my favorite modern writer today, next to G. Willow Wilson and Benjamin Percy.

One. Like that the flash in the book is the literal black and white symbol of the superhero the Flash.

Two. The discussion of technology and how it manifests. I loved how it’s a discussion of technology and how it manifests “It reminded me of the way smartphones became ubiquitous in the 2010s.”

Three. Soule holdovers a comic book-writing style thing in the book where he underlines emphasized words rather than italics which seems to be the form in prose.

Four. I loved these philosophical asides in the middle of a plot point of set piece moment, like:

“Face value. What was the ‘value’ of a ‘face’?…A couple walks by you and the woman has a black eye. What does that mean? A child is overweight. What does that mean? A woman is wearing a very short skirt. What does that mean? A man has a prosthetic leg. What does that mean? A neuroscientist’s mind is transferred into the body of an overweight security guard. What does that mean? For one thing, it meant the nurse who could save the neuroscientist’s life had placed herself on a professional pedestal above the security guard (who was also the neuroscientist), but she couldn’t see that, and was exercising her gatekeeper prerogatives to reinforce that status.”

Soule, Loc 1816.

Five. Alternating chapters between perspectives of past and present means you always have to level up up the stakes of each chapter until both join together. It’s a master class in alternating perspectives from back story to current story. It’s directly in the face of Benjamin Percy’s “no back story” rule from Thrill Me. Unless, you’re good enough as Percy writes. And Soule is good enough. Am I? I don’t know. I’m going to try it though.

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