Hari Kunzru (most recent novel: My Revolutions) has written an intellectual but ultimately dry short story for The New Yorker (March 10, 2008,) entitled, “Raj, Bohemian.”  
 
His main character is a first-person, nameless New York trend setter, a la Patrick Bateman, but without the interesting killing sprees of the novel American Psycho (by Bret Easton Ellis.) The character discovers that many of the people in his consumer-driven, shallow, trendy lifestyle are actually something like Buzz Agents who “monetize their social networks” because they are “early adopters,” and spout buzz lines to their equally trendy friends whenever appropriate.
 
Protag feels betrayed because he thought he was hip and hanging with hipsters, instead of a virus in the viral marketing Petri dish. He takes a knife to go kill Raj, the first person who he figured out was a buzzer in his social circle, but when he gets there, ennui overcomes him, and he succumbs to habitual trendiness.
 
This is ultimately unsatisfying because Kunzru ends his story with The Shrug. “Raj, Bohemian” falls into numb and mindless violence, or violent and mindless numbness, or whatever.
 
While I’m no fan of epiphanic fiction, where a story’s climax can be summarized as “And then I realized…,” or “And everything was blue feathers,” a story must end; it cannot merely peter out.
 
“Raj, Bohemian” is interesting, but essentially numbing. It does not shake you with emotion, which is what the best stories do.
 
TK Kenyon, Author of RABID: A Novel and CALLOUS: A Novel, neither of which coast to a non-climax.

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