Ben Gwin; CLEAN TIME; Burrow Press (Fiction: General) 17.00 ISBN: 9781941681701
Byline: Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers
Ben Gwin's complex debut novel is based around a fictional reality television sensation, Clean Time, that has catapulted various interested parties -- from pharmaceutical corporations to rehab centers -- to unimaginable wealth. For a handful of addicts, time spent on Clean Time has resulted in exceptional fame, but none more so than Ronald Reagan Middleton. But now he's missing. Gwin's novel is set up as a record of two men's search for the man behind the man Middleton has become.
Provocative and barbed, Clean Time uses hybrid structures to deconstruct reality entertainment and drug culture, both legal and illegal. From Middleton's writing, critical academic research, and media footage, a picture emerges of a man who's both a cipher and the culture's pinnacle creation.
There's further play in the novel's objectivity and distance toward its subject. Insights into Middleton's origins and motivations are largely obscured, and his ability to tell his own story is variously limited, threatened, and undermined. As his story is constructed and reconstructed, any sympathy is modulated by an equivalent suspicion...