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David Low
David R. Low, author
CoinciDATE is the story of a small American city where loneliness and desperation have taken hold. With increasing frequency, men who visit online forums to share their frustrations at the lack of female attention are turning to violence. Dubious dating agencies and cults have emerged to take advantage of the situation and get rich off desperate people. This transgressive novel is simultaneously tragic and darkly comic. CoinciDATE explores the depths people go to in order to find happiness and fulfill their lustful desires. The book should appeal to fans of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, Charlie Kaufman’s Antkind, Ryu Murakami’s In The Miso Soup, and David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.
In this dark, semi-satirical novel, Low explores an utterly depraved exaggeration of hookup culture. Miranda is an employee at CoinciDATE, a shady dating service that, for a price, will stalk anyone’s desired partner. Many who sign up are maladjusted, violent, or struggling to cope with day-to-day existence. As Miranda abandons her morals for a chance at a better life, her clients become more and more desperate. Barry, a self-pitying incel, obsessively pursues (and glorifies) an uninterested acquaintance. Doug, an unfaithful, misogynistic pervert, hires Miranda to follow an underage girl.

With a cast of brutally immoral deviants, and acts of senseless and sexualized violence, the novel is by design no easy read. Upsetting and bleak, the novel focuses on the worst of humanity: pedophiles, stalkers, murderers. It offers readers nobody to champion—even the sympathetic characters take a turn for the awful. Still, the story is suspenseful and fast-paced, with a multi-perspective narration that chops the oft-grotesque material into bite sized pieces. And readers with the stomach for it may find something horrifyingly compelling about watching the characters descend into darkness. From a school shooting in the first chapter, the tone never lets up; Low is upfront about the book’s nature.

There are so many names, places, and plotlines that it can be difficult to keep track of who’s who, and in taking on the depravity of the worst sectors of the internet, such as incel culture, Low runs into the tricky dilemma of how to parody something that is itself already over the top. And sometimes the novel simply goes off the rails: the late addition of a pyramid scheme, an unbelievable deus ex machina, and a touch of science fiction. But for the most part, this is a well-crafted, morally ambiguous, utterly depressing satire, with plenty to say about relationships, loneliness, violence, and misogyny–from the perspective of some truly revolting people.

Takeaway: This grim, violent satire of online hookup culture demands a strong stomach.

Great for fans of: Nick McDonell’s Twelve, Virginie Despentes’s Vernon Subutex 1.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: B