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Journey to Virginland: Epistle 1

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Brimming with black humor and piercing satire, at turns picaresque and epistolary, Journey to Virginland explores the breakneck paradigm shifts of the 21st century, navigating through the morass with the guidance of Dog, the novel's loutish yet wise antihero. Through a devilishly iconoclastic story line, Dog parses the key cultural and religious failures that have made for a world held hostage by hyper-capitalism, consumerism, and post-9/11 realpolitik on the one hand, and an ominous resurgence of nationalism and religious extremism on the other.

Yet far from basking in a prospect of doom, Dog embarks on an impassioned quest for identity and meaning, ultimately proposing an exuberant, decidedly life-affirming vision of human transformation.

With its vibrant style, kaleidoscopic yet highly calibrated thematic diversity, and, ultimately, unfettered sense of humanity, Journey to Virginland establishes itself as a groundbreaking literary enterprise and a true original.

290 pages, Hardcover

First published July 29, 2011

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About the author

Armen Melikian

4 books22 followers
Armen Melikian (b. 1963) holds a Master's in International Relations from American University, Washington, D.C. He has also studied mathematics at Harvard and elsewhere, and was admitted by the Mathematical Institute of Oxford University. However, he eventually abandoned both politics and mathematics in favor of literature and dedicated his life to writing.

In 2002, Melikian repatriated to Armenia from the United States and for two years studied the Armenian epic tradition. He also compiled his observations on post-Soviet Armenian society which provided the raw material for his epistolary novel, Journey to Virginland. His manuscripts were obtained by the National Security Service (formerly the KGB) triggering his effective exile from Armenia. His wife was interrogated at the headquarters of the NSS and was threatened with prosecution for "treason against Armenia" should she fail to cooperate--and threatened with assassination by a member of the interrogating team should she continue her newspaper column where she had recently introduced Melikian's literary work. The NSS also invaded the premises of the National Public Radio of Armenia with the intention to arrest a prominent journalist minutes before a program by him was to air on Melikian's work.

After a decade of unabated persecution and national ostracism accompanied with several hundred assassination threats (including by high-ranking government officials) incited largely by the Armenian Church and condoned through a conspiracy of silence by Armenian political and cultural institutions worldwide, as well as so-called "human rights" and literary organizations, Melikian renounced all ties to the Armenian nation, culture, literature, language, and identity. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Melikian is one of those rare thinkers whose intensity of passion matches their sharp wit and intellect. His poignant observations take to task the core tenets of meta-ideologies and jockeying civilizations, helping to discard layer after layer of entrenched misinformation and dogma.

Melikian brings a fresh, prodigiously layered voice to contemporary literature, not only expanding the boundaries of the novelistic endeavor as an artistic medium per se, but infusing it with extraordinary urgency and relevance in terms of sociopolitical, cultural, religious, and philosophical thought as well as mythological exegesis.

Given its prescient vision of the shape of things to come, Melikian’s novel has been compared by critics to some of the masterpieces of contemporary literature, among them the politically explosive works of George Orwell. It has also been compared to Gurdjieff's Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, and even to the book of Revelation.

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Profile Image for Greg.
1,107 reviews1,825 followers
June 11, 2013
I came across this book at BEA. On Friday they were apparently being pushed pretty hard, on Saturday when I was there I happened to find one left behind so I picked it up. Until sometime after I posted this review originally I thought that it was being published by Penguin. I was wrong. It's being put out by Trafford Publishing, which is a self-publishing firm owned by Penguin (the verso page says, A Penguin Books Company, it says this on the title page, too)

Initially, I was very irritated that Penguin would publish this. They didn't. They just own a company that will take the money of any person who wants to make copies of their book and try to peddle it.

But since I wrote all this review I might as well use it, right? Part of me doesn't want to post it. Why give any attention to this book? Well, it still is a disturbing book and well, I'm sure someone is still going to try to promote this fairly heavily in the First Reads program, there are 4,999 more of these free ARC's floating around in the world. And I have a feeling that someone will continue to act out when people say they don't like the book, and well I really didn't like the book and I have taken quite a bit of time pointing out exactly why I don't like it.

It's more of a polemic than a novel. It contains things that are sure to offend just about everyone. Maybe you're religious. Or maybe you're American. Or maybe you're a woman, or just someone who thinks that raping women shouldn't be justified. Or maybe you don't want to read a book that tells you that you're dumb over and over again if you aren't nodding along in agreement like some fucking bird trying to get some food pellets. Sadly, I'm sure there are some people who will be dazzled by the vocabulary and get lost in the confusing logic of the book and think like some idiot grad-student reading Baudrillard for the first time that the incomprehensibility of the text is a mark of genius and that it is their own intellectual short-comings are at fault. Don't be that person.

I'm not offended by the book per-se. I've read worse things. I've read White Power literature. I've read Sex and Character (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...) . I've read mistanthropic novels, and all sorts of political critiques from all over the spectrum. I'm not shocked, or really offended by this (not that I'm equating this book to White Power literature, although both do share a certain anti-Semitic quality). The book does make me sad. The ideas expressed in this book make the world a worse place than it already is. And the funny thing is that they are being pushed as being some sort of revolutionary post-9/11 stateless anti-globalization kind of statement.

This is a long review. I've placed some things in spoilers, sort of like footnotes, I think most of them are more personal type observations.

Thank you in advance for reading.
1. A preface for other reading that may help illuminate some of what I'll be writing about here.

My Goodreads friend Nilesh Kashyap wrote a 'review'(http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...) for this book, which focused on the bizarre manner the author posted this book as a giveaway in the First Reads program. I'd recommend browsing through the review and some of the comments that followed, especially those coming from the author himself. I'd also recommend perusing through some of the other 'non-reviews' of this book (which are listed under the alternate title, Journey to Virginland: Epistle 1), especially looking through the comment sections to see what the author has to say. I'll be using some of what he says in those comment sections within this review, but I'll probably be too lazy to go back and actually find them and quote them.

2. In case you're not interested in reading all that stuff.

This is what the author wrote in his First Reads write up for this novel:

“ Enter ONLY IF you love 1. reading a book with highly advanced vocabulary, 2. thinking all along, 3. doing a very serious reading (it’s NOT a light read), 4. grappling with philosophical concepts and your philosophy of life and morality, 5. reading ferocious religious satire that will disrespect and destroy your religious identity, and 6. would love avant-garde that turns upside down the conventions of the novel.

This is NOT a traditional novel with a smooth or chronological narrative. You will need to read the book twice. YOU WILL BE EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED IF LOOKING FOR A MASS-MARKET, USER-FRIENDLY, SMOOTH READING. If that's the case, DO NOT ENTER, do not even bother. Some college education would be a plus.”

3. A disclaimer.

Please check all quotations and attributions against the bound copy of the book. We urge this for the sake of editorial accuracy as well as your legal protection and ours.

Legal protection?

This is not a normal disclaimer on advanced reader copies of books. Normally they just ask you to check the text against the trade edition. You know, so you're not a dick who harps on a typo or something. Or in the rare case that major changes happen to the text, like the ending gets re-written.

Whose going to sue whom?

4. A couple of words on what I thought of the book.

It's bad.

To quote an amazon review that I think describes perfectly what has taken me pages to say, ”It's just a dull book with a convoluted idea and a lot of polysyllabic words.”

5. In which I stop writing in this semi-annoying style of numbering each point and just start writing the review.

I don't know where to start. Let's start with a quick description of the general structure of the book.

The book can be divided into roughly 5 parts. The first part is sort of an introduction, it kind of gets the reader into the world of Dog (the narrator). That's about the first thirty or forty pages. This is a rough layout. What follows is roughly 70 or so pages devoted to what I'll call Dog's adventures with women. Here he expounds his thoughts on women. He expounds on things constantly in the book, one could say that it's mostly just a series of rants with varying degrees of rationality and lucidity. Part three is a doozy and is Dog on religion. That's about a hundred pages. Then there are two relatively short sections, one on Armenia (or Virginland or Paradise) and the tragedies that have befallen the country, and then Dog in America.

According to the book-itself and things that author has written on other reviews, the narrator of the book, Dog, is faithful to his beliefs and is faithfully portrayed by the author. Dog is supposed to a stateless outsider, and the style of the book “rejects the very nature of the conventional novel, viewing it as emblematic of the rational structures, cohesiveness, and verticality of centers of power, of the ongoing project of imperialism.”

While it seems that the author is quite proud of his originality and from what I've seen him write in other people's reviews he is delivering something revolutionary and new. The truth is he is just putzing around with the sort of things that Deleuze and Guattari write about in Anti-Oedipus. There is the implicit (no, I wrote this after being only half way through the book, I'm going to say it's pretty fucking explicit) slight at the reader that if he or she doesn't get and like the book that they are either brainwashed, stupid, or the types that should just stick to reading books sold in grocery stores; but as someone who has read difficult novels and wrestled with Deleuze this reads like a Dan Brown version of real works of difficult literature. Maybe that is too harsh. It reads like something someone would come up with who wants to create an earth-shattering new type of literature but never went out and saw what the past century had been doing when you dipped past the Stephen Kings, John Grishams, Ernest Hemingways, and George Orwells. I mean these authors as people who can write crisp, clean prose that tells their stories without a lot of fuss.

It reads like someone who has read bits and pieces from a bunch of new age / conspiracy books and then vomited on a page.

It's not that fractured of a novel. It's fairly straight forward. In order to be fractured there would have to be an actual plot. There isn't one. There are a series of scenes and rants, but there is nothing resembling a plot. The order the events take place might be all screwy, and since I have a feeling that the narrator and the author share some of the same experiences, the author probably knows that he's tweaked chronology, but there is nothing in the book that indicates to the reader that it matters what happens when.

If I had to give this story a plot summary it would be this:

A guy from a country that has suffered very tragic events moves to America (Satanland, hehe, get it?) with his family. He is bitter for various reasons, he goes to school, he travels to Russia and Armenia (where he is from), does 'important' research and rants about the Truth. Don't let the travel part fool you into thinking that things really happen though.

Stylistically, this reminds me of tapes I used to make on a small boom-box in my bedroom of guitar feedback and some other noise. I thought at the time I was doing something original, or at least interesting, but I was just making some noise in ways that I'd heard that Thurston Moore got some sounds to come out of his guitar. 19 year old Greg would have called it Avant-Garde, but it was just a kid with a cheap guitar and a shitty amp and some screwdrivers doing some stuff that no one, including himself would ever want to listen to. This book reminds me of those tapes.

Oh, how I thought I was being, oh so, original.

This book is being sold as a thought-provoking, philosophical demolition of Western Civilization and the edifices our Civilization are built around. It's about as demolishing as listening to an angry 18 year old Freshman whose discovered a few pieces of hypocrisy in the world and is now going to let everyone know about the truth. Western Civilization isn't about to structurally crumble because someone is critiquing Christianity by pointing out the rituals taken/stolen/appropriated from earlier religions and then adding 'shocking' statements about God fucking you up the ass into some well known prayers (I actually wrote this part when I was only half way through the book, and had only just touched on the religion part of the book, it would be worse than this, I hadn't yet gotten to the parts about the Jews).

Nothing Shocking.

Much of this book takes on the form of, I see the truth in things, everyone else is brainwashed by imperialism, nationalism, religion, this and that.
So let's start talking about some of the things the narrator thinks. Let's talk about women. I mean whores, to be accurate to the words used in the book.

The book is dedicated to the “whores” of Virginland. Make what you will of that.

Another reviewer, or maybe the author, or someone, said that it's not that the women are whores-in-themselves (that whoreness would be a thing-ness of womanhood, a primordial condition to the fairer sex , but rather their whorishness is a product of the structures of the modern world (ie., capitalism, American hegemony). This is of course a dubious theory from Marx that crassly reduces everything into a nice fitting theory that looks good from a perch at a coffee shop table or academia. And that by referring to them as whores he is pointing out that women are not only subjected to exploitation (ie., in the Marxian sense of economic impoverishment and the reduction of everything to the economic), but more insidiously (if you buy into this theory) they have adopted the whorishness unconsciously as an identity on to themselves. They engage their lives in a constant state of trading their bodies for money and security, even if it's in the so-called respectable manner of say marriage, which is of course just a trap the whore lays out for the potential john so she doesn't have to go sell her ass out on the street constantly but instead can get her benjamins on a regular basis.

Later on in the book we get this insight into women (you said it, not me)

To some damsels in Paradise (Armenia), the rape of a woman is a sign of the perpetrator's manhood. They dream of being raped...

Among their counterparts in Hell
(America), however, there occurs a satori of feminist pride in the aftermath of rape, which prompts the rapee to publicly disgrace the hombre and accumulate social capital.

(God) help him if he is representative of an ethnic minority...Totam's black penis fucking Womb's blond pussy. Did he rape? Yes or no?

Rape is a bad thing, my sisters. I understand the full measure of this when I was raped by a woman. I felt pity for her, did not resist. Sleepless nights ensued. I was burning, choking in my bed. A sense of disgust stayed with me for many a month.

But what I'm about to say about the Pornstani
(California) wenches who rape my spirit, everywhere and every day of the sun?

I am already indifferent toward their pain. Their pussies are no more precious than my soul.

As their pussies carry Satan's
(American President, the Father of the Catholic Trinity, could be either) seal whereas this dog's soul is not worth a dog in their marketplace, they snatch my collective vamp sustenance by constantly raping my spirit, consolidate their empire.

Rape is a good thing, my brothers. Against the vampire. Cavete a canibus. It is the most effective terror against her power pyramid. The bastard worth his grain does it publicly. Not like a coward sneaking in a defenseless woman's bedroom. He is deterred less by man's law, more by the collective might of the swarms of pussy-slaves all around him
(ie., he's a coward who's afraid to get his ass kicked by some other dudes), ever ready to pass themselves off as saviors.

Reductio ad absurdum.

But this is why acaudates are waiting for Godot.

Am I just part of the pussy-slaves of the Satanic Empire who are going to discredit him? Is the slight taint of Semitic blood that runs through me causing me to try to crucify this voice of truth? Or maybe I'm just too stupid to see the truth in the logic of, I want to fuck these women. They don't want to give me the time of day because of various reasons. I deserve to fuck any woman I want, but apparently they don't think so. Since they psychically rape my soul with their indifference to me, I believe it is justified to rape them.

But before you think, well maybe rape isn't what these women deserve, but women (and men) can be awfully superficial and value unimportant things that leave the good guys and gals left alone while the assholes of the world succeed in relations with the opposite sex, let me point out the 13 Rules of Dealing with Vampire Women (I'm just giving the rules, not the details of each one, and there are details, oh yes there are details):

1. Fuck her.
2. Don't love her.
3. Don't be loyal.
4. Don't invest in her.
5. Leave the burden of your relationship's salvation on her shoulders.
6. Hold the reins.
7. Be inscrutable.
8. Live at her expense.
9. Don't trust her.
10 Cut out her tongue.
11. Scare her stiff.
11. a. Where it is legal to do so beat the nagging woman.
11. b. As for places where it's not legal to beat her, let them change the law.
12. Desert her. Temporarily or for good.
13. You are her Godosh (God). Don't let her worship another.

Why can't I get just one screw, believe me I know what to do...

One might think I'm being unfair, and cherry picking parts of the book that make make it look bad. Like I'm smearing the book with some kind of character assassination in order to discredit it. I'm really not. It's this bad, in fact it's worse because I'm not leaving out a whole bunch of things in this review.

By the logic of the book I'm just being a reactionary by being offended by parts of the book, or in this instance I'm being a mindless pussy-slave. And that my taking offense is my way of ignoring the truth of everything the narrator says. And the narrator is a self-professed dog, he's a bastard in his own words, and he's just doling out some hard-core, unsweetened truth. Or as the saying goes if you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.


Just because your an asshole doesn't mean you're offending people with truth. Most times an asshole is just an asshole. And do you know what comes out of assholes? Shit.

The logic here runs. I'm giving you the truth. I'm giving it to you in an offensive manner. The truth is offensive to the idiots of the world. People will take offense at what I say (like women should be raped in this example). Thus they are idiots who don't see the truth. As if this proves anything, but it is a clever marketing ploy for ideas and will be seen again further down in this review when I mention what a friend found on Amazon.

The misogyny in the book is fairly easy to pick up on. It's kind of right there in the open. At times he does have relations with women that he seems to respect but they are usually followed up with some little rant on why women should be raped, or some rambling about how the narrator won't be tied down to some woman. Or maybe even some ridiculous break up with the woman because say her mom who she didn't listen to had suggested she break up with Dog, and the mere suggestion of this infuriated our not-loveable at all hero that he broke up with her. How dare a person have other people in their lives and that those other people may think differently than I think.

Is he a good guy just being mistreated by a society of superficial women? Um, I'd say no. I'd say that that voice that lives somewhere in the back of the head and makes the stomach feel all weird and kicks the primitive fight or flight biological reactions to rev up are just kicking in when Dog gets near to a woman. Remember the rules? Even if you don't literally do some of those things (like cut their tongues out), if that is your view on how one should relate to the opposite sex it's probably best if they avoid you.

A common theme in this book is bitterness. It's the bitterness of someone who unconditionally wants to be accepted. It's the bitterness of authors who can't take it that someone doesn't like their books. It's the bitterness of someone whose written a book and no one else sees it is genius or that no one wants to publish it(why Penguin, why?). It's the bitterness of the student in class who can't understand why just because they wrote the paper and even if it's shit they can't get a great grade for just showing up. It's the bitterness of every stupid man and woman who hold a grudge against everyone of the opposite sex just because they can't make a relationship work. It's the bitterness of every man who refers to all women as whores, or the woman who calls all men pigs.

(Review continues in comment 2, and then concludes in comment 17)
Profile Image for Arthur Graham.
Author 70 books645 followers
October 6, 2015
You know, I rather enjoyed this impenetrable, inflammatory screed of a novel, despite the author's repeated attempts to convince me otherwise. It was probably a bit didactic for my taste, and few of its postulations were really all that mind-blowing, but where it didn't get bogged down in its own sprawling discourse or self-righteous sense of purpose, the style, wit, and imagination on display were nevertheless enough to lift this unwieldy amalgamation of satire and philosophy up out of its own obfuscating muck – at least to a point where I was able to appreciate its more appreciable qualities.

The narrator, Dog, is a man who identifies more with man’s best friend than man himself – ironic, considering his decidedly misanthropic point of view. Although it isn't always clear where his canine transmogrification is meant to be literal or figurative, its significance remains the same – as a dog, living off scraps on the fringes of the human realm he so loathes, Dog comes to see himself as a pariah of sorts – a “bastard”, if you will. His bastard's credo (don't we all have one?) can be summed up as follows:

“When there is no love in the world but a web of jealousy, rivalry, domination, possession, rage, and hatred created by beggars of love, when poets themselves are disillusioned by icons of their own creation, when the world has shriveled under the heels of vampires, when the religions purporting to have love as their foundation have turned into systems of slavery and exclusivism, only the bastard is capable of taking what he wants from life, turning upside down the order of the world in this whorehouse of vampires.”

Now, before succumbing to visions of the luscious Salma Hayek* in From Dusk Till Dawn, understand that Melikian has something much more sinister than bloodsucking vixens in mind. Such “whores” may hold their place on the totem of systemic vampirism described above, but they’re relatively low on the pole as far as Dog is concerned. Like any good picaro, Dog's main targets are those forcing us into the role of bloodsuckers in the first place, even as our own essence is leeched away by others higher in the food chain. If he sounds at all bitter about this, that's because he really is, but for all his complaints about the whores most readily within reach, he takes his arguments much further than those typically made by men who've simply been spurned by too many women in nightclubs.

If women are reduced to whores under patriarchy, it is only through the common practices and attitudes binding them as human chattel. “This is why they must give ass in order to get anywhere,” according to Dog. However, “Women give ass to the men above them just as Catholicoi give it to the masons and the president to the oligarchs.” In this rather cynical sense, all of us are whores to the last – whatever we’re selling is immaterial. From marriage and religion to commerce and politics, there's not an exchange-based institution under the sun that can’t be equated at least to some degree with prostitution, and few of these are left unscathed by Dog’s incessant bark.

Whether by choice or by circumstance (one suspects a vicious circle here), Dog remains an outsider. In his own words, “It is to avoid being ensnared in the webs of ossified human superconstructs that dogs all along have chosen aloneness. They refuse to play the game set for them before their birth and without their consent. Woof woof...”

Given his broad focus, Melikian’s satire is fittingly global in scale, remapping our world in terms of common stereotypes informing popular (mis)conceptions. Ergo, Italy becomes Alpacinoland, Greece becomes Socratesland, etc. “Mercedesland is variously called Hitlerland and Hamburgerland, depending on the doctrine of the ruling political party of the day.” Allahland, Ayatollahland, and Binladenland naturally comprise most of the Middle East, and then of course there’s Satanland (the United States), where “you have the right to vote only insofar as you lack the means to dismantle Satan’s reign. Otherwise you and your vote shall be expelled from Satan’s intestines and appear in his quotidian shit.”

In Paradise (a.k.a. Virginland), the men suckle at their mother’s tits until the age of 50. Upon reaching marriage age, “Mamma enlists her network of mothers to look for a virgin bride for her masterpiece of incompetence of a son.” With such a high premium placed on their virginity, sex outside of marriage makes women into whores, while men who cease to lust after them are hardly considered men at all (naturally, they are "fags"). Under such an arrangement, compliant women can only be one of two things – wives or prostitutes. However, Dog’s contention is that marriage makes whores of women as well, especially where monetary gain is involved, i.e. wherever men hold a disproportionate share of wealth, i.e. damn near everywhere.

Sorry, ladies – it seems you just can't win! It's probably not much consolation knowing that men are mostly to blame for this sad state of affairs, but that seems to be what Dog is ultimately saying in his wide-ranging yet interconnected diatribes against patriarchy, empire, and the global markets that keep them running. Furthering his critique of the institutionalized prostitution they together engender, Dog adds that “Pimps sell their whores for a day. These folks sell theirs for a lifetime...” Men with the gall to reject such hypocrisy – buying neither the milk nor the cow – are labeled bastards, the (real or imagined) minority group which Dog seeks to champion. While it is doubtful that we'll see the BRA (Bastards Rights Act) come before congress any time soon, that doesn't stop Dog from fully committing himself to its cause. In the meantime, he feels caught between the women he can't afford and the men he cannot stand.

Dog's idea of a typical classified ad:

“For sale: Woman. Sex unto death. Affection unto death. Money! Otherwise, kindly bugger off and die.”

If that doesn’t explain his take on things, perhaps this illustrative discussion between a typical virginoso and virginosa will:

“I have a Mercedes.”
“I have bare arms.
“I own a house.”
“I have long legs.”
“I’m an executive.”
“I have a pussy.”
“Oh, sister...”

“Long live the national traditions of Paradise,” Dog barks in response. “Cunt is capital,” he goes on to lament, “In the humanoid world,” anyway. “And the logic of capital is aggrandizement.”

Dog sees this aggrandizement as a product of patriarchy, wherein women are reduced to property with assigned value. Tracing the origins of patriarchy back to the establishment of monotheism and its subsequent eradication of the Earth Mother, Dog eventually comes to focus his ire on organized religion and the modern states enabling it. As he explains:

“It was Adam who was born of Eve. It couldn't have been otherwise, my brothers. This is the patriarchal act of mental terrorism, uttered through the mouth of the fake god fashioned by the semiliterate priests of Yehu, who now weighs down upon the women of Virginland and the whole world.”

Giving the lie to those who would label him a misogynist, Dog comes to see himself as a champion of both men and women alike. Turns out the guy's a stinkin' romantic at heart, a full-blown carpe diem, all-you-need-is-love kinda guy, and all he really wants to do is cut the bullshit from the bedroom to the boardroom and all places in between, so that all people (perhaps him especially) can get their needs met (social, spiritual, and sexual) with as little artifice as possible. In the end, he almost comes to seem like a grown-up Houlden Caulfield who really ought to know better by now, forever railing against the phonies regardless of how complicit he's become in all their phoniness.

His solution to the problem? “Bastards of all countries, unite!”

Piggybacking on the work of his alter ego, Black Dog, Dog seeks to convince the masses of the hollowness of their beliefs, engaging the church in a series of furious, if futile, theological debates. Amongst other equally perceptive and priceless contentions, Dog contends that the Judeo Christian God, who “got a PhD in coming up with lame-ass excuses,” is a construct of impotent old patriarchs with bad breath and a penchant for rewriting history.

“Crucified-schmucified... Mary-schmary... Pilate-schmilate... Lies from top to bottom.”

Okay, so what? The whole thing turns into one great big jumble of narrative ramblings and pontifications, but if you're still reading by this point in the novel, you've already come to accept its blatant disregard for the very form. Admittedly, there are times when Dog stretches the evidence to fit his claims (speculations, numerology, etc), and one often wonders where his true motivations lie (Saving the world? Getting laid?), but he does somehow manage to make his own special case against the cornerstones of human civilization, and for that I have no choice but to give the no-good bastard credit.

This book is dense, disjointed, and sure to disappoint readers hoping for an easy read. It will also offend and outright attack you. Overall, I enjoyed it, but considering that I've not one but two degrees under my belt, I guess the author was right about at least one thing! (see other reviews for discussion of the initial giveaway, through which I received my copy)

*Salma, baby – you can suck my, ummm, blood any day of the week. In your dreams, George Clooney!
Profile Image for Dawn Betts-Green.
579 reviews30 followers
May 17, 2012
While I hesitate to discount any book based solely on description, etc, I am making an exception in this case. The description of the story itself does sound interesting, but when you include the following as your giveaway listing, you are just asking to be panned.

"Enter ONLY IF you love 1. reading a book with highly advanced vocabulary, 2. thinking all along, 3. doing a very serious reading (its NOT a light read), 4. grappling with philosophical concepts and your philosophy of life and morality, 5. reading ferocious religious satire that will disrespect and destroy your religious identity, and 6. would love avant-garde that turns upside down the conventions of the novel.

This is NOT a traditional novel with a smooth or chronological narrative. You will need to read the book twice. YOU WILL BE EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED IF LOOKING FOR A MASS-MARKET, USER-FRIENDLY, SMOOTH READING. If that's the case, DO NOT ENTER, do not even bother. Some college education would be a plus."

As a matter of fact, I have 3 college degrees, one in English, and earning those taught me to weed out much crap based on certain cues. This description is an exercise in that very practice. The phrase "not a light read" would have sufficed. I wish the author luck in overcoming their own massive ego.
Profile Image for Stefani.
329 reviews96 followers
September 26, 2013
I keep seeing this on the giveaways page, then I started reading some reviews to see if other people find this author as irritating as I do. And they do! A few times the author has even responded to these criticisms with some of the same gibberish crap I assume is in this book.

First, I despise authors who want to make their book seem like something only the elite and truly intelligent could possibly understand. The rest of us are just the stupid little people who really don't matter anyway, throw in a derisive chuckle, a smoking jacket and a pipe and it completes the picture of this kind of narcissist. Thank you very much but I am intelligent and no I don't need to read your book to prove it!

Second, the new giveaway descriptions lists reasons not to read the book. So let's look at those now....

"The author caricatures the Holy of Holies of all religions. Jerusalem is Penisalem."

Right away I notice this is not a reason to not read the book, its a statement of fact about the book's content. I think the author might have knocked his own intelligence down a few notches on this one. I also feel like this needs a punchline after it. Jerusalem...or, Penisalem, get it?! Penis-alem! Then the joke teller starts laughing hysterically while everyone else chuckles uncomfortably while the joke teller makes himself look like a fool.

"The author caricatures the holy of holies of the ideology and the prime representatives of the American empire. The USA is Satanland or United Tribes of Amerhenna."

Again, not a reason to not read the book merely a statement of fact. And how original, Satanland! I have never heard that before! Wait..isn't that what most Arab countries call the USA? No wait, that's the "Great Satan", close though.

"The book is experimental literature. Inverts on its head the conventions of the novel. It is Dog Lit, written by a dog who disbelieves in the opium of conventional literature."

Are there any actual reasons to not read the book in this thing? Or merely a list of facts about what the book says? I also am highly jealous that the dog in the book keeps finding opium in his literature. I need to start shopping there. And yes, I am being facetious. Look, I can use big words too! Me smart, like author with his pipe and spectacles!

"This book is for "anarchists," "atheists," "terrorists," "criminals," "satanists," "moslems," "subverters," "communists," "drug dealers," "the homeless," "the stateless," "the gypsies," "the thieves," "the blacks," "traitors," "whores," "fascists," "conspirators," "co-conspirators," "co-coconspirators," and... "real Americans."

I thought this was a list of reasons to NOT read the book, not a list of people who should. Also, I think its spelled Muslim, not moslem. And according to Rush Limbaugh there are many whores in the world, so ladies have at it!

"Therefore, it might be desirable to read excerpts on author's website BEFORE entering into something that might prove to be after all a waste of precious investment time. "

Thank you, but I already knew from the giveaway description that I would spend my time better by going outside and sucking on a rock whilst staring at the sun.
Profile Image for Steve Capell.
6 reviews1 follower
February 27, 2012
This fictional account of the character Dog took me on a physiological journey to places, ideas, metaphors, and wonders that I could only dream about. Dog is on a journey to find the implications of life and self discovery. He is a very deep and unrefined character that invades our own ideas and understandings concerning topics of religion, politics, sexuality, men, women, and leadership. I read every book with a completely open mind and allow the author through their characters interact with me and draw me into the story. I believe that in order to find the humor of Dog this is very important to read the sarcasm of Dog and allow the humor to unfold in your mind. Dog is a character that will take these subjects and dissect them like a frog in high school biology glass. The reader will walk away from the book feeling like maybe something is still left clinging to their soul that will not wash off. I will admit that I had to go back and read several of the pages over the second time to be completely engulfed by the wit and humor of the subject.

The writing is raw, descriptive, and poetic at times, and just flowed beautifully. The subject matter will invade your sense of moral absolutes and twist and turn your inner thoughts like a Kansas twister. I highly recommend this book to readers that are willing to read this novel with a open mind and savor the humor as Dog invades your understanding of life.

In accordance with new FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers I am disclosing the following: I was given a copy of this book by the author and I am being paid to review this book. I am not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
Profile Image for Chrystal Mahan.
Author 7 books16 followers
March 28, 2012
I’m not philosophical.
I try to be.
I am not a scientist, or a mathematician, despite working on a Masters degree.
I don’t read a lot of sci-fi -futuristic type novels.
But, I try to be open minded about them.
When I requested to be a part of the read and review group for Journey to Virginland Epistle 1, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.

At first it was really hard for me to get a grasp on. I was intrigued by this life of Dog and the quest for life and its meaning.

I like to think myself intelligent so please don’t let this steer you away from reading this novel. You might enjoy it. For the record, it wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it, it was more that I did/could not enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

It was for me personally, a difficult read. I read it. Taking the words for nothing more than surface value. If I strayed from that I was going from book to Nook Tablet to laptop trying to do a little research in order to connect the dots on what I thought was real vs. what was purely fiction. I felt because I was not a philosophy, religion, or history major I just didn’t get some of the remarks that were made. Because of this I did not have a full grasp of the story being told.

Despite that, the story was still amazing, at least what I could understand. It was completely intriguing, and I was so excited to read it because the publisher’s description painted a very vivid picture. It really made me wonder what life would be like in the future.

So, it might seem I am a bit torn. I liked it, even though I did not understand a lot of it, but I did grasp the general idea. I didn’t like it because it made me feel ridiculous about questioning my own intelligence.
Profile Image for Christine.
9 reviews1 follower
April 15, 2012
Just received my PDF copy of the book - what quick and commendable service! I look forward to getting to it on my eReader.

I received this book for free on Goodreads' First Reads giveaway.

I tried really hard with this book. I haven't had this hard a time with a book since I tried to read White Fang and Gulliver's Travels when I was seven. The story looked interesting enough - that's why I entered. The prologue seemed interesting enough - this looked like a good story. As soon as the real book starts, though... Ehhhhhhh.

Right off the bat, it reads like a rant with alternative names for all the geography, which, even with a map, is hard to follow - seeing as all the alternates have their own alternates as well. I couldn't actually find any point to what was being put on paper. I stuck it out for a couple chapters or so, with all but zero comprehension. It made me feel like my attention span was worse than usual. I flipped through the rest of the book, hoping to get somewhere worthwhile. Every place I turned to was the same - odd vocabulary, rant-like wording, and no discernible plot.

Unfortunately, I was forced to abandon this book.
Profile Image for Sherri Keller.
46 reviews11 followers
June 26, 2012
Disclaimer: This book was awarded to me in a LibraryThing giveaway. I was asked to provide a review in return.

I'm only halfway through this book so far, so I might add more to the review once I'm finished, but there are some things I need to address.

Here's a quick lesson how not to do self-promotion. The text from the first giveaway has appeared in several reviews. I'd recommend you read it as well. When I entered the giveaway, I was looking for a book that was more than fluff, more than YA vampire luv (not that there's anything wrong with that if that's your bag—I enjoy some fluff, myself) so I was willing to overlook the slightly-condescending tone used in the promotional material. After all, if you were an author who was trying to write something with a bit of depth, and your giveaway copies were awarded to someone who had only read something at the level of, say, Twilight, the review would probably consist of ZOMG BIG WORDS, LIKE TOTALLY ZERO STARS, and you'd likely want to let the people entering the giveaway know that this is a bit more advanced. Although, there's probably a better way to tell your readers that it's advanced, rather than suggesting they attend college before reading your book. I went to college, and I'm a pretty voracious reader, and I still had to reread several passages to figure out what the hell they actually said.

The following is the text from the second LibraryThing giveaway, the one after I won a copy. I'm not sure if it's still up, but if I had seen it before I won, I can definitely say that I would not have entered the giveaway, and the author would have earned a prize place on my authors behaving badly shit-list:

Description: Some reasons for NOT reading this book:
1. The author caricatures the Holy of Holies of all religions. Jerusalem is Penisalem.

2. The author caricatures the holy of holies of the ideology and the prime representatives of the American empire.The USA is Satanland.

3. The book is experimental literature. Inverts on its head the conventions of the novel. It is Dog Lit, written by a dog who disbelieves in the opium of literature.

4. This book is for "anarchists," "atheists," "terrorists," "criminals," "satanists," "moslems," "subverters," "drug dealers," "the homeless," "the stateless," "the gypsies," "the thieves," "the blacks," "traitors," "whores," "conspirators," "co-conspirators," "co-coconspirators," and... "real Americans."

The above text also appeared on the new giveaway on Goodreads. HOWEVER, on LibraryThing, the author goes on to add a fifth point:

5. One more reason NOT to read this book: The latest reviews assert persuasively that this book is rubbish. Don't believe it? Read it for yourself:

"A conceited attempt to imitate Salman Rushie and others. Pretentious, self-congratulatory rubbish, e-mailed to Early Reviewers along with a poorly made YouTube marketing video. Shameful. The positive reviews of this novel have only re-iterated the points put forth in marketing documents, as no one yet has had the courage to stand and criticize it. This book is, quite simply, a vainglorious writer presenting mundane social commentary with a soaring vocabulary."

While it is a fact that
a. The author has never read Salman Rushdie, and doesn't intend to read him anytime soon, because as a citizen of Satanland, his domain is first and foremost Satanland, not Allahland or Ayatollahland, and as such, he wouldn't feel a particular pleasure by demonizing Allah or Ayatollah, as the ideologues of His Holiness Diabolam Diabolum do basking under the sun of every literary crap that criticizes their ideological enemies. Rather, the author would not deprive himself from the intense pleasure of demonizing Satanland and its self-righteous and all-knowledgeable ideologues.

b. The author has made a "cheap" YouTube video because he is neither a member of the Satanic Plutocracy (he doesn't own a bank), nor is he a successful capitalist investor or an inheritor of wealth or the means of producing wealth. Shame on him! Inferior creature!

c. The reviewer has never received any marketing material, therefore he has no way of knowing if others have. And the fact is none of the winners of LibraryThing have received any (but they will receive it henceforth!) And that none of the other reviewers of the book have used nothing from the marketing material, but have expressed their genuine experiences in reading this book.

d. The reviewer is a liar and an underhanded one whose sole aim is to discredit an author and destroy his ranking, because this writer destroys the ideological hegemony of his sacrosanct beliefs in capitalism, democracy, and the rest... (and brings a new voice in literature that he wants to suffocate—a voice that sounds bizarre to him, since it is a nuclear bomb in the ass of Satan's Grand Narrative). This wouldn't have been as insulting to the reviewer, of course, if the author's knowledge of English was inferior to his.

e. The reviewer thinks he is more intelligent than the editors of major book review magazines and most of the readers and reviewers of the book, as well as all the judges of the 7 awards the author has won in Satanland, and feels a personal sense of responsibility to alert everyone to the prime danger of wasting their time by reading this book.

Nevertheless, we should believe in his genuine remarks, as "where there's smoke, there's fire" says the conventional wisdom.

Therefore, it behooves everyone to read excerpts on author's website BEFORE entering into something that might prove to be after all a waste of precious investment time. http://www.JourneyToVirginland.com

Now, I'm not an author, so I could be mistaken, but it seems to me that responding to negative reviews of your book in a negative way would be a very bad way to attract new readers. You come off looking like a dick. You just called one of your readers a liar, insulted their intelligence, and then posted that in a promotional piece for your next giveaway. Dude. Your balls must be visible from space.

Regarding the actual content of the book:
As I mentioned, I'm only halfway through, but I'm really struggling with this book. Another reviewer, Beatnick Mary, summed up this book perfectly: "It's just a dull book with a convoluted idea and a lot of polysyllabic words."

That is bang on. The book talks a lot without saying much of anything. It started out promising, with interesting lines like:

"They call me dog. Don’t ask who. Them. all of them."

"Kill the dog!
Sex is outlawed in Virginland."

which led me to believe that this was going to be a dystopian story, in the vein of 1984 or Brave New World, but it seems to have turned into a commentary on modern life with precious little in the way of narrative. I know there's Dog, and Dog likes to fuck. Also, women are whores, or something. The rest of the book is essentially Look at all the words I know. I know all of these words. Also, gratuitous Latin!

That's not to say that all of the writing is bad or over-the-top. Here's one passage I did like, on page 55: "When I was less than a year old, my parents had me christened at the church of the forty Virgins in adonis. Nobody had thought of asking me first."

Right there is a nice little commentary on how religion is forced on kids before they really understand the world around them. Sadly, these moments are too few and far between, and at this point, I can't really recommend this book.
Profile Image for Mike.
420 reviews42 followers
November 19, 2016
Ordinarily I wouldn’t think twice about rating a book poorly and rattling off the reasons why I didn’t like it, but I won this in a goodreads giveaway, and the author was even nice enough to sign the book for me, so I feel a little guilty at the thought of saying, for instance, that the book’s humor is sophomoric and predictable, or that its ideas have previously been explored by many other writers with better style and wit. I like the author’s ambition (but not the pomposity of its presentation) and I hope that in the future he will have the ability to manage his ambition and make a good book out of it.
Profile Image for Monique.
31 reviews4 followers
November 17, 2011
I'm sure this book is remarkable for many, but I couldn't relate to it.
Profile Image for Heather.
59 reviews7 followers
July 6, 2012
Conceptually, this book should be great. It challenges life as we know it, touching important issues such as feminism, communism vs. capitalism, adultery, religion, and the relationship between love and wealth. The non-linear prose seems reminiscent of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five and the complex vernacular suggests highly intellectual analysis is required. In reality though, I didn’t really enjoy this book and in fact, only made it about half-way through. This is a big deal for me because it takes A LOT for me to not finish a book just based on the principle of finishing what I start.

The arguments against the norms of Western civilization and the aforementioned issues are occasionally eloquently captured in a singular line or idea. However, the majority of the text is a winding web of “big words”. A common complaint I have about the methods employed by authors confronting complex and/or controversial issues is that their writing, which tends to be grandiose in an attempt to make their arguments sound smarter, actually alienates the “common” people who truly care. The “big word” syndrome is counter-productive and this novel is ill with this syndrome. I consider myself an intelligent person; I have a robust vocabulary, college credits and a love for all things cynical. I couldn’t follow but half (at most) of the story.

I also found it difficult to determine whether the author was truly trying to draw another world parallel to our own or not. The map of “Dreamland” makes it appear that he is replacing the names of certain areas of the world, however the parallels only seemed to go so far until I was no longer able to see the underlying message or keep track of who was where in the world. Once I determined I wasn’t able to follow along by mentally reading “USA” in place of “Satanland” and the like, I lost track of the geography.

In a nutshell, at its core there seems to be a solid foundation built on exposing irrationality and conflicting traditions within our communities. However, I feel the true intent is buried underneath layers and layers of camouflage, reducing its effectiveness and entertainment value.

*I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.*
65 reviews8 followers
July 6, 2012
I found this to be one of the most unique and most extraordinary books I have ever read.
Have you ever listened to a song, saw a movie, read a book, that was so powerful and meant so much, and you gained so much from that tiny little piece of imagination the songwriter/author/filmmaker, shared with you, that you wished you could personally thank him or her? That is how this book was to me after finishing it.
This book and I had a love/hate relationship at first, and after understanding what the author was trying to convey, I started to fully embrace this book, and well, simply loved it;)
At first, when I opened this book, I saw my country,(which I adore), mapped as, Satanland, well, that made my blood boil, lol!I texted my husband and my mom, and said, "Wow! They want me to read a book and review a book that is apparently just making fun of us!!" Well, that made me so angry that I started reading and thought, if this book is what I think it is, I am sending it back!! I started finding some hilarious stuff, (the author has a neat witty way about himself), and I started texting my mom and my husband again, saying, "Oh! Haha!! He wrote this (or this)", and well, even if this book had to get in line with other books, I had no choice but to finish this that very day.
If you are planning on reading this, don't read while doing a million other tasks;) It is like a child, in the sense that you must offer your full attention, or you will miss something important, and you really don't want to miss anything, trust me!
I won't say I recommend this to everybody, I don't think everybody will like it, I think some will take offense, when really, there shouldn't be any. I mean, after all, this is just somebody's mind here, right? Just because it is written, doesn't mean it is true.. or is it? and maybe that could be the reason why you don't appreciate this book?
Profile Image for Jeriel.
Author 2 books4 followers
August 11, 2013
I don't have much to say about this book, but I received it through the First Reads giveaway on this site. After reading a few of the reviews on here, I became wary of the content in Journey to Virginland: Catena, but I wanted to give it chance. I will admit, though, that the author has made a nice attempt at breaking new grounds in the realm of literature, and it is quite an innovative idea. Most writers wouldn't dare to try something different. In addition, the ideas presented in this book do indeed provoke a little bit of thought, and I found myself on my heels the entire time to make sure I didn't miss anything. Overall, however, the book did have some setbacks.

The story follows the perspective of Dog, who proposes various ideas on society, relationships, religion, etc. While it presents these aspects under a different light than how most of us would normally imagine, I can't say I agree much with these ideas. Then again, we all have the right to our own opinions.

One thing I will admit is the language isn't as convoluted as it has been made out to be. At times, this book is easy to follow and comprehend. Some aspects of the story are, in fact, enjoyable. In addition, Melikian litters subtle symbols, numbers, etc. throughout the text that are interesting when you catch them. Despite a few of the hindrances in the story, it is still something that's worth reading, and its ideas are worth entertaining if only for a moment or two.

I'm sure there's a market out there somewhere for this book, but personally, Journey to Virginland wasn't for me. For sure, however, it was an interesting concept, and I am curious in seeing what else Melikian will write in the future.
Profile Image for Karen.
10 reviews
February 9, 2012
This book is many things, one of which is a very intriguing read, and not one for those who like light and airy writing. Journey is sad and funny and altogether crushing at times. The author is really an amazing writer.

The subject of the book is an extremely smart but loutish and character known simply as Dog.
Dog pursues the answers to his questions about life, his place on Earth and other such subjects and does so at an unrelenting pace. His quest for identity and meaning in the universe causes him to revisit everything about his life, including his relationships with women, family, literature, and homeland. While doing so he has an abundance of commentary about history, religion, politics, and culture that unravel our very fabric.

Dog resides in a world called The Republic of Virginland and he travels about studying other people and trying to understand their motivations and how they relate to him as a human being. The author combines both biblical and fictional places, such as Satinland, to explain to the reader how the western civilization and the interaction between the sexes and cultures has led to numerous questions about Gods existence.

If you are looking for a highly praised book that will utilize all your thought processes regarding life, the Universe and how we came to be, you will love Journey to Virginland.
Profile Image for Trista.
33 reviews
June 22, 2012
Did the synopsis leave you confused? Do not worry, me too! Let me put what this book is about in normal people terms : Some really smart guy, the author, uses really big words in a dystopian type of book. He pulls from all the cultural differences that the world has and lays them out for us using literature. The author portrays the main character, Dog, as a single traveling man who is caught up in all the bias the world places on one another. As I read the novel I could honestly say I could pinpoint what culture he was talking about while telling his tale. Journey to Virginland does make you think and wonder how in the world there are such different perspectives on life and how people live their lifestyles. Although we live in a rural area, we travel a lot when we can go. I am very outgoing, loud and stick out like a sore thumb with my blonde hair. Some people give me the stare down while we are in other countries, but it is the cultural differences between countries and religions. As Dog traveled through the fictional world and discussed how the views of women were, I understood why I was getting the 'stink eye' from people. Even though Dog's world is fictional, it definitely combines real life experiences and honest to goodness real impressions people have on others
Profile Image for Yvonne.
63 reviews
July 25, 2016
I have received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

I found this book very interesting. It won’t be just a book you’ve read, trust me. It has some very cool elements in it and they definitely have their appeal. Like the map at the beginning of the book. It has all these funny names, like Shakespearessex and Alpacinoland. In the book he also mentioned Pornstan, really cool.
The book itself was very funny. It had great lines like “”I command you to be obedient to a husband,” they say the Word has said. The Word has forgotten to add, “If your husband is not a manpanzee.”” I really liked that one.
It was also very sarcastic and cynical sometimes. Sometimes a bit too harsh, I think. It was really platonic about sex and he kind of mate fun of our whole society. “Authority means never having to think once.” It’s very true, but a bit mean.
Another thing I found very strange were the random-out-of-nowhere comments he sometimes made. Like “Padre tries to touch his nose with his tongue, but he just can’t.” Very shocking.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the right book for me. That’s probably because I’m too young and too little involved with politics. Half of the time I had the feeling that I wasn’t getting a joke, and that’s a pity. I wasn’t able to completely enjoy it like a real fan would. I really do hope you will. Have fun!
55 reviews5 followers
February 1, 2012
Let me preface my review by saying that this book, while it is very good, is not for someone that is a light reader. I read a lot, and found myself re-reading portions so I could understand what was going on. Having said that, this book was absolutely intriguing and if you stick with it, I think you will really enjoy it. This book is a definite page turner and very fast paced, so you have to keep up!

Dog is the character created in the book and is drifting about in a dreamland called The Republic of Virginland on a type of self-discovery. As he moves about, he studies other people and critiques their motivations and tries to figure out what it means to be human. What motivates us to make the decisions we do? The author combines both biblical and fictional places, such as Satinland, to give the reader a very biting glimpse at how the western civilization and the interaction between the sexes and cultures has led to numerous questions about Gods existence.

This book is sometimes funny and witty and at others very poetic and thought provoking. I truly enjoyed reading it and I'm looking forward to reading others by Melikian.
Profile Image for Gina.
60 reviews
March 18, 2012
I read a lot of light fiction these days, mostly due to the fact that my recreational reading time is not as much as it used to be. When I was offered the chance to review Journey To Virginland I was thrilled to have an excuse to pick up a book with some depth and grit. I am most definitely NOT disappointed to have vested the time and thought that I did in this book!!!

This tale of dog explores the hypocrisy that we all seem so willing to pass a blind eye to as we meander through life. While I found many of dog’s insights into religion intriguing, I am sure many would be offended by the candor.

If you are looking for a light read, or are easily offended by irreverent treatment of religion, than this might not be the book for you…… to EVERYONE else, I can not recommend this book enough!!!
Profile Image for EmoNation inc..
14 reviews
August 15, 2013
This book was way beter than i thought mna let me tell you if i could explain life within a book it would be this book. It just let me thinking and dreaming of hoq our qorld might turn to this one of the days, and that would suck alot
Most of all this book help me understand more about civilization and how we all can't pick side sometimes it good to be the middle man so both side will understand each other so this book not only open my eyes to the world but shown me another side to the world some of us forget exists under all the lies and false truth
Though it had mw confused at some part because of the back story to everyone but i pulled through fully understanding what was going on and i couldn't put this book down at all because that how good the book was to me

So thanx Armin for writing this book i can wait for the next book
Profile Image for Paul Lunger.
937 reviews4 followers
November 20, 2013
Armen Melikian's "Journey to Virginland: Catena" is one of the more unusual parodies/satires written in a while. The book follows Dog on his travels through the ancestral Virginland as we explore this world & the oddities within it. In this world that Melikian has created countries are redone within a sexual contrast & the characters themselves are products of it. The story itself if you can follow the satire & get over the references isn't a bad one to read even though Dog's character & the cast of characters with him are strange by any stretch of the imagination. Overall one of those questionable books I've read this year with my mind not yet made up on what to do with any future books in this series.
Profile Image for Cassandra.
1,304 reviews
August 6, 2013
I won this book through good reads first reads for free.

I have one word "heavy"

Deep and thought provoking material that is sure to get your mind working overtime.

Loved it.

thank you Armen
Profile Image for Hattie.
6 reviews
February 20, 2012
"Great book, kept me reading from beginning to end. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a creative, entertaining read. The world's history in a different light, according to Dog."
Profile Image for Bogdan.
673 reviews41 followers
June 23, 2021
It was interesting work, but a little bit too mixed-up and with a lot of symbols instead of the countries/people/concepts he wanted to discuss about.
Profile Image for Armen Melikian.
Author 4 books22 followers
May 21, 2012

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: "Dog vs. God. In an iconoclastic story, Dog demolishes the foundations of Western civilization."

READER VIEWS: "A book that is completely different than anything that I have ever read before."--Page Lovitt

REBECCA'S READS: "A book unlike any other. A very intelligently written, original work of fiction. A book quite out of the ordinary."--Kam Aures

"An engrossing, brillantly crafted read...
In his ambitious novel, Journey to Virginland: Epistle 1, author Armen Melikian serves up a searing commentary on the earth and its inhabitants through the canine eyes of 'Dog.' Dog offers a controversial, Kafkaesque, and somehow matter-of-fact narrative of life...
Melikian’s prodigious writing talent and ability to show the world’s history in a different, sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic air, creates an entertaining ride into warring religions, warring cultures, warring sexes, and the histories and raison d’etre behind each...
Melikian is an astonishing writer who teaches his reader about the world and the human condition through tragedy and humor."

MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW: "The world seems like a giant storm of everything wrong with the world and not a whole lot right. Journey to Virginland: Epistle 1 follows young Dog as he embarks on a journey through America and the chaos of the post 9/11 world where he looks for what it means to be human and the constant changes one must undergo to maintain a connection to one's sanity through it all. With plenty to ponder and plenty to entertain, Journey to Virginland is a fun and enlightening read and is quite the recommendation."

"It is not every day that one is shaken to the core, and ultimately enlightened, by a particular work of literature. I owe experiences of this order to Malraux’s Metamorphosis of the Gods, Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra, Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, Lao-tzu’s Tao, and now Journey to Virginland." Kardash Onnig, author, sculptor, New York


Profile Image for Danni.
124 reviews69 followers
August 18, 2014
It took me forever to read this book. It is not an easy read or even an approachable read. You must really dedicate yourself to immersing in the language and style. Just like a Fantasy novelist creates a culture and world for their characters to flourish in, this author created words and experimental literature techniques to present a mirror of history and politics. I enjoyed reading something completely different from what I usually choose to read.

That being said, the actual ideas conveyed could at times be funny or agreeable, but most of the time I just thought the author was crazy. I spent some time abroad in the areas that were described. I could see their reflections in the work. The history I knew certainly helped me to understand the setting (although I suggest having at least Wikipedia near by if you try and read this, even if you think you're an expert in history and politics). It was just so pessimistic about the world and our hope for a future. All the follies of government and society were presented as our doom that must be lived in forever and ever. There is no character or people that you like or relate to. There is very little in general to really make you feel connected to what you're reading in any deep way past your historical and cultural perspective. Many of the gender issues especially bothered me. I could never tell if the author was mocking all gender relations or if they really hated women that much. Any section talking about women or the main characters relationships always left a very sour taste in my mouth after reading it.

I don't think I was the target audience for this novel. I'm sure someone else will love it if they have a lot of time to devote to it without taking the philosophy personally.
53 reviews2 followers
April 30, 2014


In compliance with FTC guidelines, I disclose that I've received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

First, I would like to thank the author, publishing company and Goodreads for the opportunity to read and review this book.

I won't lie, the fist thing that caught my attention in this book, was the cover. It's so pretty, simple but also intricate , just like the novel to me.

I don't go into books with much expectations on it. This book was a very pleasant read, but I would not tell you this book is a "quick read". If you pick this one up, I sugest you take your time with it and savour it.

This novel was unique and very impressing. I found it so different to read from the perspective of a dog, and it's an experience I very much would like to repeat.

The world that was crafted in this book pleased me, and I loved seeing the map on the book (it was very helpful!).

I think that one of the things that kept me from giving this book a higher rating was that, although I love the complex writing in this book, sometims I had to re-read some passages or come back a few pages to confirm some things, and that was rather annoying.

Also I don not enjoy philoshy a lot and opt to avoid it and not dwell on it either. The philoshy present was a bit complicatated for me to follow

Overall this novel was very good and enjoyable and I wish to read something by Armen Melikian again.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
379 reviews11 followers
February 25, 2012
I have to say when I originally read the book cover to this book I was excited to get my hands on it. However on starting it I found the book to be rather confusing to me. I held out thinking it would begin to make sense but by the third chapter I realized I was in over my head. I had I really hard time following the book and was perpetually confused though out the entire read even after rereading several passages I was still lost. Though the book is well written for someone of my average intelligence it went way over what I could comprehend and left me confused. For those of you who I know are way more intelligent then me you may find the book to be a great read and I encourage you to give it a look however for someone like me who is a simple girl I found myself way out of my league and really didn’t understand most of what was happening. So my final say on this book though well written and very in depth it left me feeling confused and lacking in my ability to understand the plot.
Profile Image for Elise.
1,305 reviews
Want to read
August 4, 2013
First I have to say that I won this book on Good Reads.

Once I started, I was greatly disappointed. Is this book different from anything else you are likely to read? Yes. Does it have its own language, syntax, vocabulary, and pace? Yes. Does it try to be provocative? Yes.

Is it any good? Absolutely not. From the promotional materials provided, I can only gather that the author thinks very highly of himself and his intellect. However, the bulk of the book sets our to skewer any belief and/or political orientation that the author seems to disagree with. That does not make it intelligent. Nor does it make it good. There is nothing thought provoking about this at all.

This book is going in the trash.

0 stars--don't waste your time. The multiple comparisons to Orwell must have him spinning in his grave.
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