The Gospel of Anarchy

( 3 )


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 practice utopia outside society and the law. Some even see their lifestyle as a spiritual calling. They watch for the return of a mysterious ...

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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 practice utopia outside society and the law. Some even see their lifestyle as a spiritual calling. They watch for the return of a mysterious hobo who will—they hope—transform their punk oasis into the Bethlehem of a zealous, strange new creed.

In his dark and mesmerizing debut novel, Justin Taylor ("a master of the modern snapshot"—Los Angeles Times) explores the borders between religion and politics, faith and fanaticism, desire and need—and what happens when those borders are breached.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Among the malcontents in Taylor's narrow debut novel (after collection Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever) is David, a Gainesville, Fla., college dropout with a dead-end job. After destroying his computer, he chances upon a pair of dumpster divers who appear to have more going on than he does, and so he follows them to a rundown punk house called Fishgut and quickly adopts the lifestyle, growing a beard and engaging in a relentless bout of three-ways with a couple of punk girls. They go to church together (partly for the free food) and end up forming their own cult based on the inscrutable writings of an anarchist named Parker who has disappeared from Fishgut. The Fishgut inner circle grows smaller and crazier as the crew pushes their new religion with a popular zine, though the events don't seem to build so much as pile up. Taylor can set a scene, but he takes his characters and their screwy subculture so seriously that you'd think he, himself, was a convert. With little attention paid to finding direction, the novel, like its characters, simply drifts. (Feb.)
Sam Lipsyte
The Gospel of Anarchy is a beautiful, searching and sometimes brutally funny novel. Justin Taylor writes with fierce precision and perfect balance: the acts and pronouncements of his freegan utopianists may seem hilarious and deranged at times, but Taylor treats their yearning with the seriousness it deserves.”
Christine Schutt
“A feverish, fearless writer, Justin Taylor delivers ‘blessed pleasure’ in translating the ‘baffling Christ babble’ in The Gospel of Anarchy, a novel whose shiftless characters, in search of completion and contentment, must wrestle with that prerequisite of faith: a willingness to believe in the unseen.”
Matthew Derby
“I’ve always thought that there was some really interesting narrative terrain in that weird intersection between freeganism and fundamentalism, and I’m glad to see Taylor got there before some schmuck wrecked it.”
“A brilliant debut novel you have to read.”
Oxford American
“Once again, Taylor blends the competing heat of religious fervor, threatening politics, and nihilistic sex, yielding dangerous results.”
Miami Herald
“Remember this name: Justin Taylor. You will hear it again. This young man, who was raised in South Florida, is an irrefutably talented writer. He is audacious, intelligently literate and fizzing with potential.”
Gospel is a beautifully written, insanely intelligent, and ultimately moving novel....You’ll be blown away by this book, re-reading it for years to come. ”
New York Press
“Taylor is an undeniable talent with a contemporary voice that this new generation of skeptics has long awaited--a young champion of literature.”
Nylon Magazine
“For those of us not mired in strange sub-sub-culture squalor, it can be a disconcerting read at times, but its looming questions and cracked worldview are sure to stick around in your consciousness, relentlessly stalking a ground they won’t give up anytime soon.”
“Taylor’s writing … is exceptionally good. Locally, the sentences are incisive and tumbling. But what’s even more powerful is the way those sentences accumulate into larger ideas.”
New York Observer
“These days, all the cool kids write about pharmaceuticals and cognitive science. In his first novel, The Gospel of Anarchy, Justin Taylor makes his attempt to diagnose the mal du siècle by grappling with matters of faith.”
Time Out Chicago
“As in his story collection, Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever, Taylor has a natural sense for what makes intelligent young people tick and, occasionally, drop out.”
“Taylor interweaves youthful dialogue with religious rhetoric, exploring what would happen if everyone did what was good for everyone, and the corporate world burned to the ground.”
“Provocative…Writing from various perspectives in a wholly captivating style, Taylor traces the delicate lines between freedom, spirituality, politics, and happiness, depicting a lifestyle both hopeful and flawed.”
New York Journal of Books
“Justin Taylor exposes the fine line between making life choices and living a deluded reality, deftly illustrating how taking things too far or too literally can distort their true meaning and intent.”
Village Voice
“Taylor, a Brooklyn-based author raised in Florida, writes dreamy recollections of swampy youth”
New York Times Book Review
“A new voice that readers--and writers too--might be seeking out for decades to come.”
Los Angeles Times
“If Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children showed upper-class New Yorkers in the not-yet upended world before 9/11, this book does the same for the small-town anarchists, believers and the Burning Man-inclined.”
Kirkus Reviews

A cult emerges from a punk/hippie sanctuary in this mordant first novel from the author of the story collectionEverything Here Is the Best Thing Ever(2010).

Like other college towns, Gainesville, Fla., is a haven for alternative lifestyles. David is slow to catch on, but in his junior year, everything changes for this liberal arts major. A relationship ends; he loses interest in his courses; he stays home masturbating before his laptop, then throws it in the tub in self-disgust. Salvation comes when he runs into two Dumpster divers, Thomas and Liz.He knows Thomas from their suburban Miami childhood. They take him back to Fishgut, their dilapidated house with its floating population of punks. There he meets Katy, and his emancipation is complete. He's dropped out. She's a generous earth-mother type, as willing to share her body with this newcomer as with her girlfriend Liz. (Taylor writes sex wonderfully well.) She's also a self-styled Anarchristian, happily blending anarchy and Christianity, unlike those uptight Catholic students at the church reception they attend for a goof (and for the free food). What really fires Katy up is her discovery of a notebook buried in their yard. It belonged to Parker, Fishgut's mysterious founder. Katy takes its religious and philosophical ramblings as the ultimate truth, the Gospel. David, now her ardent disciple, edits it with her into a pamphlet, perfect for the Millennium (the story is set in 1999). Not everyone is sold; Thomas, an atheist Jew, leaves Fishgut for the Battle of Seattle after maliciously inserting a line of bull into the Gospel. Taylor's nimble analysis of these schisms recalls T.C. Boyle'sDrop City, but he lacks Boyle's sense of direction. That might have taken us to Parker, who remains an enigma, while Katy's further development stalls. Excerpts from the Gospel serve as filler, and momentum drains away among a variety of voices.

Taylor nails The Scene, but at the expense of the story.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061881824
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/8/2011
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,421,253
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 5.36 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Justin Taylor edited the acclaimed short fiction anthology The Apocalypse Reader, and is the author of Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever, a New York Times Editors' Choice. The Gospel of Anarchy is his first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 9, 2011

    No headline for this

    Occasionally compelling but essentially a pseudo-intellectual pile of crap. It was all I could do to force myself to get to the end. When it ended 7 pages before I expected it to my day was made.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 3, 2012

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    Posted August 31, 2011

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