Zoyd Wheeler has raised Prairie as a single parent into her teenage years. Living on disability checks through a twisted arrangement with the government, Zoyd — and Prairie — are finally forced to face his past, which forced her mother, Frenesi Gates, into hiding. Twists of fate lead Prairie through a maze of folks that knew her mother and the cause she fought for.
I first came across this book in college, and can’t say I got a whole lot more out of it the second time around. The number of characters with their own stories, or histories, detailed in the novel makes staying focused on the original story being told difficult at times. There is also a sense that everything is building to a climax of eminent importance, not only for the characters but bringing along with it some sort of profound insight into society. Yet, ultimately, the revolutionary movement they were looking for has the backbone of a bunch of people rallying against the government for the sake of rallying against the government.
The closest thing to a comment on every day society seems to be the agreed upon existence of a massive conspiracy being perpetrated by the government in which television is meant to distract people from societal ills. Ironically, Prairie discovers her mother through the abundant use of film the young Frenesi produced to capture the revolution. Certainly other commentary is offered on how “the man is keeping us down,” but nothing that equates to anything beyond one individual or group working the system.
Ultimately, Frenesi’s disappearance surrounds an affair with the “bad guy” working for the government to infiltrate her particular band of revolutionaries and the death of the their leader. Symbolic, no doubt, of the suggestion that the government stops at nothing to control us, it just took too many roads to get there for me.
Vineland has finally prompted me to adjust my scale for the first time in quite a while. I’m giving it a non-recommendation of not that good. It’s good enough not to skip, but won’t broaden your horizons nor entertain you.