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. 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, this one seems to be all about proselytizing.
The story, such as it is, begins with a young college student, David, working as a telemarketer, who is promptly fired. Soon, he encounters a couple dumpster diving behind a fast food place. One thing leads to another and he becomes a regular in a sort of seedy college commune called Fishgut. For half the book, David makes us voyeurs as he observed the house’s regulars, an old hippie couple, a bisex pair of girls, and others. The girls are enamored of some scribblings of a mysterious wanderer named Parker. The house occupants are equally enamored of anarchy, something they – and the author – apparently barely know how to articulate.
Oh, they know all the problems of modern society, the excesses of capitalism and consumerism, but their only plan is to keep dumpster diving and waiting on the second coming of Parker to provide a solution.
I could go on, but it’s not worth the effort. I will say in fairness that Taylor writes fairly well in present tense and first and third person, and he occasionally writes eloquently. But his tone is cynical about most everything – including his three preoccupations here – group sex, neo-religion, and anarchy. With his agenda so transparent – good fiction rarely preaches this loudly – I can only call this book faux-fiction, something perfectly at home in the consumerists’ throwaway bookstore aisles.
My rating: 2-1/2 of 5 stars