“Brain candy this tasty is rare”A review of EUDEMONIA, by Gary Kamiya, co-founder of SalonSophia Tonemai, the heroine of A.P. Schmitt’s remarkable debut novel“Eudemonia,” is one of the smartest, strangest -- and in some waysscariest --protagonists I’More“Brain candy this tasty is rare”A review of EUDEMONIA, by Gary Kamiya, co-founder of SalonSophia Tonemai, the heroine of A.P. Schmitt’s remarkable debut novel“Eudemonia,” is one of the smartest, strangest -- and in some waysscariest --protagonists I’ve come across in a long while. A youngBrazilian journalist based in the United States of Hysterica, Sophiais at once viciously intelligent, deeply compassionate, and alarminglycold-blooded.
As a reporter, Sophia has witnessed the ugly crimescommitted by the powerful, and she is tortured by the fact thatcorporate crooks and warmongering politicians always get away withtheir misdeeds. So she becomes obsessed with the idea of punishingthem.
Sophia wrestles with an ultimate moral question: Is anindividual justified in meting out punishment to evildoers? She’s thehighest-IQ vigilante in history – Hamlet with a silencer.This premise might sound unpromisingly abstract, but Schmitt’sstiletto-sharp dialogue, dazzling range of high and low culturalreferences and laugh-out-loud satiric wordplay (“Faecesbook,” “DuckChainy”, “Goldman Sucks”) make her protagonist’s quest for moral truthfeel as much like a killer episode of “The Daily Show” as a Socraticdialogue.
(Example: “When it comes to death and killing I always feltvery natural about it, even as a child,” Sophia writes. “For a longtime I thought ‘Thou shalt not kill’ was a statement unfairly singlingout this guy, Thou, and I just wanted to know who did Thou kill todeserve the mention. I can’t lie about it: I looked up to Thou.”) AndSchmitt captures Sophias softer side, too, in her relationships withtwo memorably-drawn friends.There is a lot of great stuff in Eudemonia, and it is completelyoriginal.
Schmitt’s command of English is alarmingly precise, and sheis an amazingly talented writer and thinker. I have almost never comeacross a writer both as smart and as funny as she is and have neverread anything quite like it. Eudemonia is an amazingly original pieceof work.The way the moral conundrum is ultimately resolved, or not resolved,may disturb some readers. But Sophia is such an original character,and this sui generis philosophical/political thriller is sothought-provoking, that you don’t mind.
Brain candy this tasty is rare.-- Gary Kamiya, co-founder of Salon.com