Andrei Codrescu: Messiah

Andrei Codrescu
Simon & Schuster

Anderi Codrescu's latest novel, Messiah, could probably start with the same strange invocation Rod Serling used to intone at the beginning of The Twilight Zone: "Imagine a dimension in time..." The time here is the turn of the millennium, and the dimension is the precarious world of two orphans, Felicity and Andrea. Both girls believe they represent the missing pieces of a united, underground campaign to thwart the forces of Armageddon. For Codrescu, such a terminal event is not only a matter of fire, brimstone, and the like, but a kind of technological apocalypse, wherein powerful minds penetrate the earth through a portal in the Internet and feed on the frenzy surrounding the end of an era.

Codrescu's first novel, The Blood Countess, chronicled a truculent 16th-century Romanian despot and her lurid orgy of gore. Messiah finds a similar carnival of chaos in the very near future of premillennial New Orleans, where Felicity and Andrea find themselves on a collision course with each other, and the endgame culture around them. This society is seemingly soft and easily controlled by technology. The threat of a massive catastrophe has paralyzed the public, leaving room for predators to seize power. Weaving a number of fragmented stories together, Codrescu leads the reader through the trials of Felicity and Andrea as they attempt nothing less than to save the world--while coming to terms with what it is they're saving.

An aptly timed book, Messiah forces us to consider our blind faith in the machinery of our fractured society, and our blind allegiance to a technological regime that is outside our control. Looking upon a world that is both spiritually eager and profoundly confused, Codrescu ultimately introduces a quietly unsettling prospect: That when we wake up on the morning of January 1, 2000, nothing will have changed.


Codrescu reads from Messiah 7:30 p.m. Monday at Borders Book Shop Uptown; (612) 825-0336.

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