American Inferno

American Inferno

by Bret Lowery


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American Inferno by Bret Lowery

The lusts of Internet love, the greed and gluttony of the mortgage meltdown, the sloth of those slow to address climate change, the wrath of the techno-warfare state and shock journalism, the envy of Wall Street fat cats and wheeler-dealers, and the immeasurable pride of Americans despite it all.

These are the Seven Deadly Sins, circa America, 21st Century.

"American Inferno" is a retelling of Dante's classic 700-year-old tale for the modern age, an age where men doubt: themselves, others, and the gods... and, ultimately, where we and the gods go from here. Join Dr. Durant Allegheny, rational scientific disbeliever, and the mysterious Virgil in a journey up the Appalachian Trail and into an inexplicable world of holy men, demons, and all-too-fallible men capable of both good and bad as he seeks both to find the meaning of it all and confront the Powers that may or may not be in an "American Inferno".


"A crazy, wild journey up an Appalachian Trail paved with the stones of a philosophical quest.

Lowery totes plenty of baggage on this walk from Georgia to Maine-Dante as his guide, with a soupcon of Pynchon, a nod to the pre-Socratics, Basho, Robert Frost, Shakespeare, Whitman and others, making the work akin to The River Why and Golf In the Kingdom. But, delightfully, the end product is Lowery's very own. Dr. Durant Allegheny-could it be his real name? perception is the crux here-has hit the trail into the wild, looking for surcease from a life gone sour, or at least for his soul. He travels with Virgil, a runic, mostly monosyllabic, guilelessly endearing character. Early on they meet Padma, a virtuous pagan (or is it God or the Devil?) who bestows upon them a gift-guides to map the pair's way forward. These guides prove to be incandescent trials-by-fire, as is negotiating Lowery's writing-dense, probing, elegiac and as sinuous as the trail it charts, then becoming clear as a view from a summit. There is caterwauling, the swift transformation of emotions, psychotropic episodes, condemnations and deep investigations into decency and humanity, backlit by some of the ugliest company the Devil could throw at you. Though moving steadily northward, Durant spirals through confrontations with the curse of fear, greed ("We're all petty and selfish and primitive Baptists."), God ("Maybe it wasn't over, maybe God was still evolving, maybe God would change. Which made for a really terrifying thought."), truth, justice, love, pride and choice. Allegheny finds a girl, too; Beelzebub, by name, who advises against his "intellectually-fueled avoidance of reality." Lurking amid the intellectual fuel are lovely descriptions of places-the rhododendrons and trillium of springtime Tennessee; or his maelstrom "of the dead, the Mistress, the Amarita, the cognitive dissonances, the Atlantean inkblots"-and utterly winning, joyful talk about camping equipment; the real Lowery as innocent, enthusiastic hiker abroad on the land.

Deserves to be a cult classic."

Kirkus Reviews (Star Selection for March 2011)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781456575274
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 03/02/2011
Pages: 348
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.78(d)

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