Whatever might be said of Keith Lowe”s “Tunnel Vision,” let it not be called unoriginal.

Boldly set within the depths of London”s Underground and spanning less than 24 hours, this highly conceptual novel takes a fresh look at romance, urban society and the everyday chaos that seems to creep into all of our lives. It is a stunning debut for Lowe and falls solidly within the ranks of today”s finest Gen-X fiction.

Beginning at just before five o”clock one gloomy summer morning, we are introduced to Andy a tube-obsessed trainspotter with a penchant for making drunken bets his wait for the first train into the city is a product of one such bet. Hung over and weary from a night of excessive drinking with a similarly obsessed tube pal, Andy prologues for the audience the seemingly impossible task he is about to embark upon. It seems that in an effort to show his supremacy over all other London transport freaks, he has not only bet his wallet, keys and passport (that would be just too pass) but also his wedding.

You see, Andy is about to be married to his true love the next day. And the task at hand: To travel the entire length of the London Underground each and all of its 265 stations before one o”clock the next morning.

Of course, there is a catch (isn”t there always?) along this complex circuitous route, his friend Rolf has hidden his credit cards, his passport and his Eurostar train tickets which are to be used for him and his fiance Rachel to arrive at their Paris wedding. If he can”t find all of these things, he can”t get hitched, plain and simple.

And so Andy desperately sets off across the subterranean maze of stations and track, joined only by Brian, the philosophical wino he befriends early on in his journey. In a race in which every second counts, Andy must fight his way through train delays and huffy Londoners if he is to be united with the woman he loves in time for their wedding.

Lowe smartly builds each chapter around a different section of the tube while regularly providing precise time frames for the reader. The book flows with the fluidity of a metropolitan subway train without the delays. While keeping the adrenaline pumping, “Tunnel Vision” also manages to reflect with considerable depth, on the hurriedness of modern society and the natural displacement of priority that we often suffer.

Interspersed with a predictable amount of tube trivia are witty looks at city living and the often ignored idiosyncrasies of urban transport. Lowe maintains a tone utterly devoid of pretension and transforms a normally esoteric subject (the London Underground) into something that can be universally appreciated. After a humorous and harrowing series of twists, “Tunnel Vision” finally emerges as a story about persistence, priority and the essence of time. Lowe”s brilliant “Vision” is truly worthy of every gram of acclaim it receives.

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