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Monday, November 30, 2015

Rabbletown Closing in on Crazy About You as My Best Selling Novel; New Review Arrived

One more month to go in 2015 but with 11 months finished, Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America is but five sales away from overtaking Crazy About You.

I'm a member on Goodreads, a reader-oriented site that was so popular that Amazon bought it out.

I received an email yesterday that someone named Lee had left a comment about Rabbletown so I clicked on that link and there was nice, long and thoughtful review. I copied it, fortunately, because when I went back to the link today there was nothing there. So I'm a bit mystified. But here is the comment:

"Even the Wicked Witch wouldn't like Kansas anymore."

Rabbletown is a short novel set in what was once Topeka Kansas, seventy some years in the future. Nuclear War has wiped out much of the world. A fundamentalist Protestant Christian theology has taken over what is left of the US."

"The story is full of passionate energy, and is written with the fury an avenging angel."

Rabbletown sets out explaining this new society, starting with the hierarchy of the new leadership class. A kind of hereditary priest class, (or rather Pastor class) is in charge. It is Americana, with Church secretaries who take care of the 'holy stress' of the Pastors, Inquisitors who handle public security, and of course a huge underclass, that is broken, dysfunctional and forced to breed incessantly. Security is handled with torture, stonings and burnings. It is nominally the story of one poor family from the slums, the Crowleys, with Bob, his wife and 13 children, one of whom, Bobby, is holy in a way that doesn't fit into existing Church doctrine. Bob, an abusive drunk, is a master mason, helping to build the great cathedral that is to be the center for the New Christianity."

"As I read the novel I tried to place it as a 'type' of book. Of course I thought of it as a satire of Kansas today, often called Brownbackistan, after the fundamentalist governor who has striped government of the ability to provide basic services, (such as education) and has created a living hell for poor women who find themselves with unwanted pregnancies. I read the book as if it were in the style of WS Burroughs' “Naked Lunch”, or even Vonnegut's “Cat's Cradle” or “Mother Night”. As I continued to read, I saw it in a different light, written with an English like early medieval Latin, a language fallen from the standards of literature of Classical Rome. I imagined the writer as an isolated Frankish Monk, who has access to only a few books, such as Gregory of Tours describing early Merovingian Gaul, trying to tell the story of a society that had fallen very far from where it had once been. But then, toward the end, I saw “Rabbletown” as a new Apocrypha, a book of a new Bible for the coming Dark Age. Perhaps it is all of those. It seems like it was written fast and covers a lot of ground, not wasting time on scene or description beyond the political and social situation. It appears to have been written on the fly, and not edited, with long sentences that lose focus, but that is clearly a stylistic choice, (Attwood is a veteran journalist), to give an added sense of desolation to the story."

"Most of all I see it as a battle cry from Attwood, a lifelong Kansan who is clearly furious with the changes that have overtaken his state. I know a bit about it, because I lived in Lawrence Kansas myself for five years in the late sixties, early seventies as a student and a laboror. So I get most of the satire. He has the heirs of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Jerry Johnston (a Kansas Megachurch preacher) as the leaders of this new Jerusalem. The Catholics are forced into monasteries and nunneries, where they weren't suppose to breed, (but do anyway). The Jews are no longer around, as one would imagine in Germany if the war had ended differently. The descendants of recent Kansas political leaders, such as Brownback and Fritzel (who you wouldn't know if you never lived in Kansas) are also skewered. And of course Fred Phelps, the dead leader of that hideous Topeka Church that preaches, 'God Hates Fags” is memorialized as a saint."

"It packs a punch. It is unlike most recent novels, and that makes it interesting and a good read."

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