cover image The Gospel of Anarchy

The Gospel of Anarchy

Justin Taylor, Harper Perennial, $13.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-188182-4

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.)