THE GOSPEL OF ANARCHY By Justin Taylor [Review]

The Gospel of Anarchy

The disillusioned grunge generation, fighting their way through the lackluster gray world, tied to desks like the minions of death in a bad Soviet-era film—sometimes, I get the feeling that’s how the world is, or appears to be for many writers these days. Don’t get me wrong, there have always been the grim views, the writer who takes apart the world as it is and makes it a grim, gruesome and grisly place. And perhaps it is, perhaps I am running around in a pair of rose-colored glasses. Even so, I hope the world is not as bleak as THE GOSPEL OF ANARCHY by Justin Taylor makes it out to be.

The Gospel of Anarchy is set in Gainesville, Florida, a place that seems more like a post-apocalyptic hell-hole than anything else. Our protagonist is David, a lovely character in a dead-end job who spends his off-work hours indulging his porn addiction. Like I said, lovely. Through a series of incidents he ends up in a punk house called Fishgut. O, the enlightenment. The truth that is revealed when he enters into the Anarchristian group! Yea, verily, yea. After all, there is nothing like drugs, alcohol and a little menage a trois to bring one’s life into focus. David, along with the others in the group, await the return of the almost mythical Parker, who wrote the journals form the basis of their beliefs and who’s the owner of an empty tent that stands waiting for his return.

I know this is supposed to be some kind of intellectual exploration of life and existence, of what it is to be alive in the world today and where we are going. At least I hope it is. I really hope there was a message meant at the bottom of this mess. Maybe I am so deeply cynical works like this just don’t move me anymore. From page one I really found no attraction, not even any perverse interest in David and his life. I couldn’t care less about his job, or how he acquired his porn addiction. And that was just the first chapter. Half-way through the book, I was even less interested in his quest and annoyed by the aimlessness of it all. I’m sure the aimlessness had some deep meaning that will be the topic of Lit classes for years to come, but frankly it was just… meh.

Overall, The Gospel of Anarchy was not really worth the time. I will say Taylor writes well. It’s the saving grace of the book. The voices of his characters are strong and well rounded, I’ll give him that. They are real people. Sad, lost, kind of pathetic, but real people. It’s well written aimlessness, bleak self-discovery that in the end goes nowhere.

I’ve compared books to movies before. I’ll do that here. This one is like that indie film that simply everyone is seeing and says you have to see and when you do finally break down and see it, you leave thinking “Did I see the same movie they did?” The Gospel of Anarchy was a little like that, when I was finished I was left feeling underwhelmed by the whole thing.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: Harper Perennial | Pages: 256 | Source: Publisher | Buy on Amazon

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