Monday, October 22, 2012

Burner by M.C. Mars

How far are you willing to go, and how much are you willing to sacrifice in order to realize your dream? 

Jason Teal, is a hip-hop deejay and producer who dropped out in his last semester as a college astrophysics major and moved to san Francisco with his rapper friends to pursue a career in music. Three years later, the hip-hop group he co-founded has signed a major label deal – without him. Meanwhile, Jason has lost sight of his dream. He’s working a job he hates and his relationship with his stripper-girlfriend has hit rock bottom. And now, with greater frequency, he’s having hallucinations. He hallucinates walls and trains covered with graffiti pieces (burners). The burners are the work of his dead brother, PSYCHOPOMP, a great graffiti writer whose death, more than twenty years ago, has given rise to strange rumors. Some say he was murdered by the Illuminati, others believe he was in the Illuminati.

Into the chaos of Jason’s downward spiral steps a man named Cyril Magbion, a mysterious figure with ties to a secret society. Cyril has the power to transform Jason’s life overnight. He has money. He has answers. He seems to know everything. But first Jason must prove himself worthy of such a mentor and undergo “The TEST.”

The TEST will take Jason Teal down the rabbit-hole into the new paradigm of wave/particle duality where quantum physics meets mysticism at the level of the unseen. In the rabbit hole, he’ll encounter a dominatrix with a chip on her shoulder, a gangster who blew off his leg making a bomb, a man in a wheelchair dressed as a pharaoh beckoning him with ESP, a ginseng store owner who looks like Peter Lorre on speed, CIA MK ULTRA experiments, and many more weird and terrifying things that will lead to a head-on collision with himself, and the Big Bang of consciousness.

Can you handle a mind-altering adjustment to the mass hallucination we call reality? If the answer is yes, then read this book.

         The book has a strong sexual component. Jason’s girlfriend, Alicia, has become an exotic dancer to support her three-year old daughter, and to put herself through school to earn a degree in psychology. But as she exploits her sexual power in the club, she also becomes its victim.

Burner, MC Mars - a journey through street life as seen through the alternating prisms of Hip Hop, quantum physics, Buddhism and the mystique of the Illuminati.

In Burner, MC Mars takes the reader on a psychedelic journey that zooms from exploring the psychological complexity of his brilliant but tortured central character, Jason Teal, to existential themes like quantum physics and the insidious power of the Illuminati. Burner is set in a shape-shifting reality, tenuously anchored by a panoply of opposites. Rival themes are set in constant juxtaposition, leaving the reader barely able to hang on for dear life. In one moment, the reader is captivated by Jason's rigorous adherence to his Buddhist practice. But in the next, the reader is dragged down face-to-face with Jason's incessant self-destructiveness and hyper-focused quest for fame. How can a Cal Tech graduate stray so far and just who is Jason Teal? As we read on, we are constantly confounded by side-excursions into effervescent and alternative realities revealed in contradictions: Burner reveals at once the artistic beauty of hip hop against the uncertain backdrop of inner city darkness. In Burner, Graffiti is portrayed as an art-form on par with the great masters. The magic of rap in its raw brilliance is captured in sidebars inserted neatly in the story. But these two core tenets of hip hop, vie angrily with the stark images of degradation, hopelessness and raw tragedy, which are inextricably interwoven into the streets of the city.

By the time MC Mars introduces Everett's "many worlds theory," the reader has already tasted versions of this phenomenon in both the character of Jason Teal and the book's journey itself. The book careens on from a raw sensuality typified by Jason's tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend and stripper, Alicia to the noble and pristine, paternal tenderness he holds for her daughter. And around any corner, the reader can be variously drawn into worlds as disparate as the literary themes of Faust or the Canterbury Tales and the low-living of a gang of street-tough, ex-cons hell bent on taking Jason out.

If you'd like a book that will stretch your mind and take you on an improbable journey through both the dark lit streets of San Francisco and of space and time, then Burner is the book for you. But you'd better not be looking for closure, as Burner asks more questions than gives answers and leaves the reader begging for what comes next. This book screams out for a sequel to continue the journey.

- Richard Lear

10/22 Review Blitz   M.C. Mars “Burner”