Oriana's Reviews > The Gospel of Anarchy: A Novel

The Gospel of Anarchy by Justin  Taylor
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's review
Dec 11, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: read-2010
Recommended to Oriana by: Amanda
Read from December 09 to 12, 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 characters altogether, still seemed...almost unfinished. Hinted at. Not fully realized.

Let me approach this another way. This is a book (you can tell by the title) about anarchy and God. It's often very cerebral, and is shot through with conviction and belief and faith. Now, I wish I could fully commit to anarchism nearly as much as I wish I could commit to agnosticism, but I can't. I like a degree of order, I have a fundamental cynicism at my core that shakes my faith in people, and God? Nope. I just can't buy into it, and haven't since I was young. My sister is an anarchist, and I am always shocked by how optimistic and idealistic and just plain nice her anarchist friends are, and I think that's wonderful, and I love spending time with them, and talking politics and philosophy with them, and I let myself get caught up in it, usually, in visions of utopian equality and each unto his needs and no ownership and no money and peace and peace and peace. But then I leave and someone shoves me out of the way when I'm trying to get out of the subway, or a homeless dude is screaming to himself on the street as everyone averts their eyes, or I read the newspaper or even just look around me at all the shit and misery, and the glow leaves and the spell is broken.

I guess the characters in The Gospel of Anarchy are able to keep right on living without losing the glow. And in fact it goes one step further, by combining the idealism of anarchy with the rapture of faith in God, of discipleship, of the absolute conviction that what they are doing and working toward is completely right.

I don't want to give the impression that this is some hippie love-fest or angry-punk screed or densely philosophized treatise. It's not any of those, really, but it's also sort of all of them. There are some really smart and interesting ideas here, and the writing is extremely evocative and gentle -- almost too gentle, really; the few scenes which should have involved real fights, either physical or verbal, are completely glossed over, their outcomes revealed later through backward glances rather than being violently smashed through while they were happening. But it's a lovely book, if maybe a little too fanciful for me. The time and place (Gainesville, 1999) are made beautifully real, the characters (especially Katy and Liz) are believable and familiar. I'm sure I should have taken my time and read this more slowly to have gotten full benefit of the ideas, because there really is a lot to meditate on and digest. But I'm too impatient for that.
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04/22 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Amanda Want to borrow my ARC?

Oriana yes!!!

message 3: by Don (new)

Don Oh cool, there's a cover. His short stories were good.

message 4: by Jasmine (new) - added it

Jasmine it looks fun.

Tuck gainesville sounds like it could be in oklahoma

Oriana oh yeah? I've never been to either.

Tuck see all those people sweating like mofo's in melborne for the tennis deal? just like gaineville, ok. er fl. sweatin starts up the weird shit? weird baptist shit

Mariel I'm a Gainesviller!

Oriana Mariel, you should definitely read this then!

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