- Author: David Heath
- Publisher: Self Published
- Release Date: November 10th 2015
- Pages: 192
Fortune 69 introduces us to Trigger—a 30-something guy living in his mom’s house who can’t keep himself off the internet. Battling severe social anxiety and depression, Trigger lives his life removed from the real world as he makes all his social connections through his computer. On his favorite site, Fortune 69, users post completely anonymously about any variety of topics. While the posts are temporary and the user names are automatically generated and unique to each post, the ideas on Fortune 69 create a well versed and passionate community of total strangers.
Trigger introduces himself by telling us about his impending death. Despite his social anxiety issues, Trigger is deeply disturbed at the realization that our world is crumbling thanks to our inability to go anywhere or do most anything without being tethered to social media. Trigger is an entomologist with a job in his field, but his office doesn’t actually do anything, they just push papers and waste what little government funding they have. While Trigger wants to search for and discover a legendary butterfly, his job won’t allow for anything but creating memos and coping useless procedures.
In an attempt to enjoy his last night alive, Trigger goes out to try and have a more normal social life in his small Montana town. After meeting a wildly attractive but social media obsessed woman named Charity, Trigger goes home to complete his suicide plan. After making what he thought would be his final post on Fortune 69 while blackout drunk and passing out on a lethal combination of booze and antidepressants, Trigger wakes up to realize his suicide attempt failed. While not understanding how he survived, Trigger finds an email from a Fortune 69 user who identifies themselves as Trance. This alarms Trigger as the only way another user from Fortune 69 could know his identity was to breach some intense security protocols that the site put in place. Despite this, the two chat about Trigger’s epic final post. While Trigger doesn’t know what he wrote about and cannot retrieve the post thanks to Fortune 69’s prompt post deletion policy, he has to go by what little information Trance provides.
While Trigger goes along with Trance’s ideas to make some epic changes to the world without knowing exactly what he’s getting into, he simultaneously gets to know Charity. Despite being younger than Trigger and being the polar opposite of him socially thanks to her huge cosplay fan base, the two continue to bond in their distant and uncommitted way. Meanwhile, Trigger goes to his boring desk job by day and plots hacking schemes by night with Trance. While Trigger provides the ideas, Trance is the true mastermind as he is the one who is able to do all the hacking. The effort quickly snowballs from harmless pranks to conscious efforts to crack down on corrupt groups and transforms into something large scale. Trigger has to decide between giving into Trance’s extreme measures or to go on living his unstimulating life.
Fortune 69 wonderfully examines the darker side of social media and our world’s reliance on the internet. From what we eat, to what we wear and how we look, Heath examines the consequences of our knee-jerk reaction to constantly filter and present our lives in an artificial and unrealistic way that keeps us so far removed from our real selves that it can be hard to tell when someone is being genuine anymore. A true transgressive fiction novel, Fortune 69 presents the best and worst sides of our insecurities in Trigger. Much like Dennis Cooper’s The Sluts, the world of Fortune 69 brings out our inner desire for acceptance in a truly anonymous and removed environment that even the internet can no longer provide. Heath’s writing is both thought provoking and witty. Never missing a beat, Heath proves his work can stand up with heavy hitter transgressive writers like of Dennis Cooper (George Miles Cycle, Dream Police) and Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Haunted).
Like most all transgressive fiction, this novel is not for the faint of heart. Full of quirky personality traits, sexual encounters and black sheep characters, Fortune 69 is a staple for fans of transgressive fiction and a healthy introduction to the genre for newcomers.