$45 of dead tree from Island Mag for copy number 209 of 350. Geordie Williamson lays it all out in his afterword. I found it repetitive but not ritualistic; an optimistic start quickly shaded into onerous ploughing with much difficulty in focussing on the page. The philosophizing is not spectacularly insightful, the political commentary is social Darwinist essentialism, and whether Ireland is endorsing or critiquing any particular attitude is too ambiguous; his use of calculated serial murder is substantially less powerful than Nabokov's breaking of taboos in Lolita. This resulted in more irritation than shock or outrage in my case. Still, as expected the prose is crisp.
Malcolm Knox is wrong to think those killed here are characters in Ireland's earlier books: those guys always worked, and suffered for it in that human-dignity enhancing way that Ireland champions here. (I think Ireland is saying that it is the willingness to work, to try to do it right, to endure the meaningless, and not the content of the work itself that is moral. I don't really know as I don't buy it: most work is exploitation, as he acknowledges here, and I don't see the concomitant suffering as necessary or essentially worthwhile, or even character building as its boosters proclaim.) This leads me to think that whoever reads this will read whatever they want into it. Perhaps it is a satire.
Nicolas Rothwell spends more time putting the publication in context than talking about its contents. He is right that this is a rumination on the "self-created world [...] where love, kindness and a sense of shared experience wither."
I guess that's the last of Ireland's for me.