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Eric Garcia’s The Repossession Mambo

repossession_mambo9781921372810
Scribe 2009 (Australia)
(and Harper US)

In the near future, artificial organs (artiforgs) can be bought to save a person’s life – or simply enhance life’s quality. From kidneys to central nervous systems, the expensive artiforgs can be bought on credit, and if you miss too many payments, they can be repossessed.

When we meet Remy, he is a former repo man hiding in a burned-out hotel, as the payments on his own artiforg are overdue. He’s not just ex-repo, he’s ex-Marine and an ex-lover of five wives – and throughout this tight, pacy narrative, we learn all about his life and how he got to be in the mess he’s in.

The character is a tough guy, coming to terms with past and present, and The Repossession Mambo is absorbing and fun, like an 80s Bruce Willis action movie, as opposed to a stylised thriller. At first I was a little put off by the lack of strong female characters. The author could have included some female repo ‘men’. It seems unrealistic that women would be relegated to stereotypical (sex workers and wives) roles in a near-future society. But things do turn around when Bonnie is introduced, and Remy revisits his relationships and wrongdoings. We see that much of the female-blindness stems from his world view (it’s in first person). Still, at least one female repo-worker would have brought more authenticity to the story.

But you really end up liking the bastard, and rooting for him, despite the fact he bloodily tears the organs from overextended customers. These scenes can be gruesome – but the legality of repossession says a lot about a desensitised future full of self-absorbed beings, deeming themselves worthy of life-extension (often with ‘optional extras’).

The Repossession Mambo is a clever and entertaining piece of genre fiction - escapism with a little future-food for thought.

This book will come out as a film in 2010, called Repo Men (disappointingly, it seems there are no female repo-workers in this version too, just going by the title).

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  • 1
    skippy_2
    Posted August 11, 2009 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I found this an absorbing story and really enjoyed the disjointed first-person narrative. Garcia’s depth of research is obvious, his grasp of anatomy is better than good and his firearms knowledge is not too shabby either. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys their dystopia with a side-order of blood ‘n guts.

  • 2
    Posted August 11, 2009 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    You beat me to the punch on the adaptation news front, you sneaky snail. It sounds really cool, though. If you enjoyed this book at all you should check out ‘Fountain Society’ by Wes Craven (yes, the horror director!). It’s another interesting sci-fi dystopia story.

  • 3
    Posted August 11, 2009 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Sounds like a great read. The content reminds me of a play I read about 10 years ago by an Indian writer, Manjula Padmanabhan, called HARVEST.

    It is about an Indian family who get drawn into the organ market, selling parts of themselves to keep rich Americans young and beautiful.

    Review of it here: http://www.india-today.com/itoday/27041998/books2.html

    It was published by Kali for Women in 1998 and is well worth a read if you can ever get your hands on it …

  • 4
    foff92
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    fantastic film. I don’t believe it’s at all fair to make a judgement on the book because of the lack of female ‘repo-men’, not that i have read the Repossession Mambo, but in Repo Men, there are female ‘Repo-men’, though only as peripheral characters with little, if any pertinence to the narrative.

    I suppose what i’m trying to say is that you should take a chill pill and simply enjoy texts that you come across, be them good, bad or lacking ‘authenticity’.

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