Dr. No by Percival Everett

Possibly the strangest book I’ve ever read …

I’m really at a loss how to describe this.

It’s a thriller, but also a comedy (so, a comedy-thriller then), but it sort of has a poetic majesty about it (right, it’s a comedy-thriller with overtones of literary fiction).

So the easiest thing is to just tell you a bit about it.

Meet Wala Kitu, a mathematics professor at Brown University and the owner of a one-legged dog called Trigo, Kitu’s particular field of research is Nothing. Yup, the Professor has devoted his academic career to Nothing, that is Nothing as a concept, which as we discover, is completely different to the number zero, or a vacuum (which is something).

The professor’s research brings him into contact with John Milton Bradley Sill, a multi-billionaire who fancies himself as a Bond super-villain. To this end, Sill has devised a plan: he intends to break into Fort Knox, and steal Nothing that is stored there. But to carry out this plan, Sill needs Kitu: the world’s foremost authority on Nothing

Okay, even though it was a bit of a mind-fuck, I really enjoyed this. It helps if you can gear your thinking into accepting Nothing as … something that once in your possession, you can do pretty much anything, including altering reality.

The book is neck-deep in mathematical references (which I didn’t bother to look up), but the only thing you need to understand is this idea of Nothing. The prose is pretty much built around it; though mercifully light in the right places which keeps the action moving, aided by plenty of dream sequences, locations, and an incredible array of deeply drawn, yet bizarre, characters.

If there was something about Dr. No I wasn’t keen on, it was the ending. To me, it seemed a little bit rushed and a little bit low-key. But the ending was a very small part of the whole, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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