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Found Audio
by N.J. Campbell

August 22, 2022
T. Alex Blum
Found Audio
by N.J. Campbell

My brother, among his artistic endeavors, publishes a periodical called the Raw Art Review, and he has some interesting contacts in the art and literary world, which I assume is how he stumbled upon this book he sent to me at Christmas last year. From the moment I started reading it, I didn’t get up from my chair until I had read the entire book. I have never seen it reviewed, referenced, or mentioned anywhere, which adds a layer of meta to what is already the most meta literary work I have ever read.

Essentially, it purports to be an archival manuscript of a set of mysterious audio recordings, containing the deposition of an unidentified adventure journalist, which has been delivered by a mysterious individual to a historian whose specialty is analysis of audio files. The mysterious individual subsequently disappears.

The historian sends the audio tapes to an acquaintance, and then she disappears as well. The subject of the tapes is the journalist’s search for a legendary lost city which may or may not exist, and each character who touches the story contributes a fragment of the overall puzzle while also adding to the mystery.

The story and the form in which it is delivered draw you in, to the point where you feel as if you, the reader, are just another meta layer of the story. The whole thing is so preposterous and at the same time so convincing that it is hard to experience it as a work of fiction. There are only two other books I have read that do this as well, which are The Cosgrove Report, by George J.A. O’Toole, which purports to be the diary of a Pinkerton operative involved in tracking down John Wilkes Booth, and Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson, which is built around a mysterious film of dubious authorship which appears only in fragments on the internet. If this is your kind of thing, you must get this book (and the other two as well).

(N.B. If you liked Christopher Nolan’s first film, Memento, this is for you.)

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