Jim Leckband's Reviews > Masters of Atlantis

Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis
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's review
Sep 29, 2011

really liked it

When I was an undergraduate searching for belief systems (or for denunciations of belief systems - they are essentially the same thing) I came across a curious book in the Main Library. The book was called Lawsonomy and it was a wacky introduction to a early 20th century "philosophy" of Alfred Lawson. "Lawsonomy" was self-published and must have been donated to the library at some point. In any case, the all-encompassing claims, magical thinking and off-the-wall screwiness (the "zig-zag" theory of the universe for example) quickly cured me of any momentary lapse of falling into any belief system.

And that is one of the points of Masters of Atlantis - that any system of thought or beliefs usually just comes out of the noggin of some screwy bastard. The novel concentrates on Gnomony - but if you look closely, just about every kind of belief or organization is satirized by Portis. Religion and cults (of course), government, law, academics, business, get-rich-quick schemes, get-healthy-quick schemes, self-improvement, self-abasement - they all get their brief shot of sanitizing satirical sunlight in Portis' gentle comic novel. At the end, though, all that matters is human company and how we deal with each other - and the Masters of Atlantis finally get a moment of grace in their new giant, yellow mobile home with "cathedral roof and shingles of incorruptible polysterene"
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