Meet Steve (not his real name), a Special Case, in truth a Terminal Case, and the eponymous antihero of Sam Lipsyte’s first novel. Steve has been informed by two doctors that he is dying of a condition of unquestioned fatality, with no discernible physical cause. Eager for fame, and to brand the new plague, they dub it Goldfarb-Blackstone Preparatory Extinction Syndrome, or PREXIS for short. Turns out, though, Steve’s just dying of boredom. The Subject Steve is a dazzling debut—by turns manic, ebullient, and exquisitely deadpan—Sam Lipsyte is in company with the master American satirists.
The eponymous Steve (who claims his name is not Steve) is a mild-mannered 37-year old ad man who pens slogans celebrating the "ongoing orgasm of the information lifestyle." Unfortunately, he's dying, but "he's dying of something nobody has ever died of before: he's actually going to die of boredom." The scientists (who may not be scientists although they do wear white coats) "calculate that there can be no calculations" about how long he has left to live. Faced with this eventuality he embarks on a particularly wayward sexual, narcotic, and religious odyssey. Lipsyte fills Steve's journey with so many oddball doctors, multimedia weirdoes, dysfunctional gurus, and bizarre sexual encounters that it's actually rather difficult to imagine anyone dying of boredom. Exhaustion, perhaps. Ludicrous and occasionally even a little bit sick, Lipsyte's surreal, intelligent black comedy proves that death really can be a laughing matter. --Travis Elborough, Amazon.co.uk