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The Gospel of Anarchy: A Novel
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The Gospel of Anarchy: A Novel

3.06 of 5 stars 3.06  ·  rating details  ·  292 ratings  ·  71 reviews
In landlocked Gainesville, Florida, in the hot, fraught summer of 1999, a college dropout named David sleepwalks through his life—a dull haze of office work and Internet porn—until a run-in with a lost friend jolts him from his torpor. He is drawn into the vibrant but grimy world of Fishgut, a rundown house where a loose collective of anarchists, burnouts, and libertines p...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 8th 2011 by Harper Perennial (first published January 20th 2011)
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Mar 14, 2011 Mariel rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Teddy boys
Recommended to Mariel by: oriana, tuck and phoebe
I quit. I got to the part where they were going to make a porno. I should have quit as soon as it switched to the hippie three-way with the two hippie girls [they are NOT punks. They are hippies!]. Blah blah she was worshipping her between her legs blah blah but Katy only had attention for David blah blah the wonderful special amazing thing about David is blah blah blah the twelve year old girls writing bad poetry in their bedrooms would be embarrassed to read this. Like I didn't just read the f...more
Dec 11, 2010 oriana rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to oriana by: Amanda
Shelves: read-2010
Full disclosure: This was written by my friend's boyfriend, so.

This is a very strange, surprising book. I thought it should be longer, not in plot, but in development. Which is odd, because it is mostly a very internal-development kind of thing, where characters are given pages and pages of something like interior monologue, reacting to things happening now or reflecting on their past or meditating on the future. But yet, some aspects of the book, some aspects of the characters, and some charac...more
I am giving this two stars because I think the author has talent but I honestly hated this book and really feel like .5 of a star would describe my feelings more accurately.

It's a novel but really it's just a corny ode to CrimeThink publications and other punk rock propaganda of the 90's. So just like that stuff, it's negative and exclusionary. Also, the dialog and plot to me were completely unbelievable. I read to the end because it only took a day and I was hoping it would get realistic, but...more
Nov 09, 2010 Amanda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: David Meiklejohn, Oriana Leckert
To be fair, I am not exactly an unbiased audience; at the same time, as much as I can be, I believe I am. Nevertheless: I didn't fully realize how much this book kicked my ass until, later on the day I finished it, I got on a plane and for five hours was unable to do anything but stare out the window. Plus the only thing I can seem to stomach as a follow-up is Bolaño. These things all mean that this is a good book -- breathtaking in a stab-you-in-the-heart way.
Jan 31, 2011 Tim rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
Young adulthood is often a search for both self and meaning. As such it is prime ground for literary exploration. Yet while Justin Taylor's The Gospel of Anarchy gives a somewhat different take on the subject it's an exploration that falls short.

The story is built around David's search for self, which brings him into a loose group with an anarchistic bent living in a house they call Fishgut. The story is set in Gainesville, Florida, home of the University of Florida, in the late summer of 1999...more
Caitlin Constantine
Maybe the word I would best use to describe this book is "ambitious." Taylor tries to tackle a bunch of really big themes - consumer-driven alienation and isolation, the way people use ideology and religion to give their lives meaning, the way going too far into these things can render a person indistinguishable from the guy who stands on the corner and screams at seagulls for killing his mother - over the course of a slender little novel. I like that. Even if he didn't quite succeed, I apprecia...more
From the back cover:

In landlocked Gainesville, Florida, in the hot, fraught summer of 1999, a college dropout named David sleepwalks through his life — a dull haze of office work and Internet porn — until a run in with a lost friend jolts him from his torpor. He is drawn into the vibrant but grimy world of Fishgut, a rundown house where a loose collective of anarchists, burnouts, and libtertines practice utopia outside society and the law. Some even see their lifestyle as a spiritual calling. Th
The Gospel of Anarchy goes from a sexist softcore porn male fantasy tale of dumpster diving Floridian anarcho-punks in Gainesville to magical realism...that centers around a cultish version of anarcho-Christianity...? After taking that turn it gets really boring. Like Jonathan Franzen or Mary McGarry Morris, the writing style is bleak, dystopic, vacant…not so much my thing...if this is a critique or depiction of the vast American suburban emptiness and alienation of sprawl, then ok but it feels...more
Laurel Beth
I thought this book would be a lot different than it was. I thought a book about anarcho-punk subculture would be lovely actually, but it ended up being as annoying as actual anarcho-punks. It's no secret that I am not at all religious, so when I read about all this gospel tied up in punk it was harder for me to take the whole thing seriously.

So here's some key plot points that rang immediately true.
•There's a self-proclaimed "prophet" who reminded me a lot of this dude in my hometown who kille...more
I seriously wanted to like this book and over the first 40 or 50 pages I did. Then the book took a strange turn, a long description of sex, a trip to a Catholic church, a strange dream, and then a new anarchist inspired Christian sect. The prophet of which is a missing friend who refused to join into the debauchery of a house called Fishgut. The rest of the novel meanders through 4 years of college philosophy with characters developed in a shallow and very unlikable way. Intelligent middle class...more
When asked by someone earlier to discuss The Gospel of Anarchy, the most lucid thought I had was to describe it as interesting. The plot is virtual non-existent, and the writing embodies anarchy itself. It is confusing, slightly disturbing, and more philosophical than I expected. Yet, in the end is somehow works. It is a novel that forces one to confront one's own biases and expectations of society. It is not one to be read quickly but rather to be enjoyed slowly, evaluating every word and phras...more
From publisher

I was really excited to read this review copy from Harper Perennial. I remember enjoying Justin Taylor's short story collection Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever - of reading his stories and experiencing these moments that were more like memories, of being pulled back into my younger-self, surprising me with their familiarity.

So I was not entirely unprepared for those same feelings and memories to be yanked back up towards the surface while reading The Gospel of Anarchy. Justi...more
James Payne
The Gospel of Anarchy is a gross misreading of a counterculture. Taylor has moments of lucidity, and then forces his characters into actions that are not believable even under the aegis of fiction. This book is, like, (A) punxploitation and (b) a "cool" veneer/excuse to write about Christianity, which is a mindbogglingly boring topic - but more than that, if you're going to write about Christianity, have the confidence to actually do it. Don't masquerade as "cult" and "punk" or whatever is curre...more
Sean Owen
"The Gospel of Anarchy" focuses on an anarchist punk rock flop house that becomes the source of a kind of punk rock religion. Taylor wants to wrestle with some big ideas like faith and authenticity, but in aiming high on the idea front he leaves the plot feeling like an unfinished foundation. The at times naive and idealistic crimethinc/activist strain of punk rock subculture that flourished in the late 90s/early 2000s seems like ripe terrain that has largely been ignored by literature. At times...more
This book was unabashedly misogynist, and sought to characterise women as objects whilst absolving men for doing so.
The first 25 pages are dedicated to a main character jerking off to porn, and uploading explicit pictures of his ex girlfriend to the net so he can reach climax. This is legit the opener. Ugh. It just went on and on, it was seedy. It's actually fairly predictable for anarcho dudes, and while I made it about 80 pages in, I then tuned out. I could NOT bring myself back to this book,...more
Is there such a thing as high-brow Young Adult fiction?
Ahmed Khalifa
I might be a bit biased, because Justin taught me, but I loved it. Crazy imaginative and starts off with a bang. The events don't stretch your imagination too far at first, but it creeps up on you and by the end, the characters [and you along with them] have lost touch with reality almost entirely.

Wasn't a huge fan of the random philosophical interludes. They helped shape David, to be sure, but whole chapters? Really? Crazy internal monologues should go on a couple of pages, max, I feel.

Sam Rosenberg
Very much worth diving into.
Raül De Tena
Un cambio de siglo es un momento histórico y social delicado: una bisagra tendente a un misticismo inevitable cuando el cosmos te proporciona la oportunidad de aprovechar el cierre de una época y la apertura de otra para extrapolar ese cambio a tu propia vida, incluso a la sociedad que te envuelve. El cambio de siglo que vivimos desde el XX al 21 (sí, fue precisamente cuando nos pareció aceptable dejar de numerar los siglos con números romanos y nos acostumbramos a escribir siglo 21 con absoluta...more
If I could, I'd give this book an extra half star. I have to say that I really like this writer. I thought his story collection was fantastic and I think he's one of the only young authors right now who focuses on things that are truly interesting. He is though, much different' from the writers that I tend to like. I enjoyed this novel very much. I actually read it in under 24 hours in order to prepare for an interview. All in all it's beautifully written with well imagined characters. I have tw...more
Tatyana Kagamas
Still kind of thinking about this one... There are definitely some cringe-worthy moments of circle jerk punk enthusiasm, and yet this enthusiasm or sincerity is what separates him from other young writers of his ilk, and is what I actually find compelling about his books.

Many of the paradoxes of spirituality and anarchism explored in this are really interesting and well-written. The characters are pretty flat and - as has been mentioned in other reviews - completely insufferable. I don't think i...more
Bob Mustin
Faux Fiction

The Gospel of Anarchy, by Justin Taylor

This book is billed as a novel, and I suppose it is. But it has an ulterior motive, based no doubt in Taylor’s leanings. It’s a rather silly story, really, something college kids will read after a doobie or a six pack of beer. In some ways it reminds me of Richard Farina’s ‘sixties underground favorite, Been Down So Long It Seems Like Up To Me. But where Farina’s book seemed larky and fun, probably inspired by the Beats and Kerouac’s writing, th...more
Tim Meneely
Taylor's a bit of an MFA celeb (particularly in Brooklyn), but I confess that I've never been overwhelmed by his work. He's a competent writer and capable of flights of words of great beauty, but the story had some pitfalls, for me.

At times, the story builds toward confrontations which never culminate, a series of anti-climaxes which I took to be a part of the effect understating the commentary on zealotry. (I kept reading the acolytes and their detractors as a demonstration of how extreme mode...more
Read my full review here:

Taylor's novel is about a group of anarchists (punks, hippies, etc.) who become anarChristians -- defiers of authority who somehow end up following the biggest authority of all. The idea itself is really interesting. Even the title brings together two contradictory elements, and many reviewers have admitted they bought the book on title alone.

I had a really difficult time judging just how serious this...more
Marco Kaye
I’d wager that every college graduate knows of a place like Fishgut, the house/commune where much of the action takes places in The Gospel of Anarchy. I myself lived in such a place over a summer, a dilapidated yet loved white structure known as the Creek House. Someone said it wasn't as much of a house as it was a two-story tent with one flap open.

Justin Taylor perfectly captures that pre-Millennial time, when the Internet was just getting its sea legs and readers of my age were too. Then agai...more
*This is strictly my experience and opinion of the book. Please treat it as such.*

When I read the back of the book, I was immediately intrigued by the things it promised. I thought it was going to open me up to a way of thinking that I wasn't familiar with. And it did, kind of.

At first you think that it's going to be about David the whole way through. Wrong. Turns out you're going to get inside the heads of all the significant members of Fishgut. This was a problem for me. I think, by doing this...more
I’m of at least a couple minds about Justin Taylor’s Gospel of Anarchy. The book tells the story of an anarcho-punk collective in Gainesville near the turn of the 21st century, and while it’s easy enough to see how that story could’ve gone in the direction of some sub-Palahniuk direction of a cultish group who try to grab the zeitgeist by its bright and shining trail, the book never quite does that. The group never becomes a social movement, never really grows to the cartoonish level at all—inst...more
I enjoyed this very much, though I prefer his short story collection. He jumps around a lot from one narrative voice to another, which in a collection of stories didn't bother me - in fact, I liked the diversity of characters and points of view. In a novel, though, I found it rather jarring. Still, I marvel at Taylor's ability to capture and immerse his reader in a distinct subculture while maintaining the specificity and authenticity of his characters. He also has a remarkable gift for weaving...more
Sara Habein
To expect Taylor to devise an entire philosophy out of nothing along with the novel itself would be naïve. Expecting fiction to arrive completely out of the imagination misunderstands the act of writing. Even the most speculative or avant garde fiction hopes to connect with its readers, and readers connect when they can identify. The best fiction contains so much truth and honesty, but affords itself the benefit of creating its own facts. Taylor took an existing philosophy and manufactured a wor...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Justin Taylor is the author of the novel “The Gospel of Anarchy” and the story collection “Everything Here Is The Best Thing Ever.”

The Millions called “The Gospel of Anarchy” a “bold casserole of sensual encounter and deranged proclamation… Loudly, even rapturously, Taylor succeeds in making the clamoring passio...more
More about Justin Taylor...
Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever: Stories The Apocalypse Reader Flings: Stories More Perfect Depictions of Noise A Whisper in the Reeds: Nine Charlie 32: Signalling 'The Terrible Ones'

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