House of the Holy
The Gospel of Anarchy:
by Justin Taylor
$13.99 List Price
It should come as little surprise that the first novel by Justin Taylor, who in 2007 edited an anthology of doomsday scenarios called The Apocalypse Reader, is all about religion and anarchy. What’s more surprising, perhaps, is that it is also a paean to Gainesville, Florida, circa 1999. Indeed, the book follows its characters with an almost Google Maps specificity as they wander that city’s streets and scrounge through dumpsters. Taylor’s knowledge of dark corners is a plus, because The Gospel of Anarchy explores the no-man’s-land between college kids and townies: the hidden spaces of dropouts, punks, visionaries, and addicts.
Last year saw the publication of Taylor’s impressive debut collection, Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever, which contains several stories set in contemporary anarchist collectives. In The Gospel of Anarchy, the collective is based in a house called Fishgut and is what’s left of another community after one of its members OD’s. All sorts come through Fishgut—a pair of hippies station their camper van outside, college kids slum there, a skinny, shirtless man pitches his tent between house and fence—but at the core of the community is the now-absent Parker, a kind of prophetic figure negotiating a complicated path between anarchist philosophy and mystical Christianity. There is also Thomas, a skeptic and doubter (his connection to Doubting Thomas is a little too firmly underlined); Katy, who equates sex with religious rapture; Liz, who equates love and sex with self-abnegation; and Anchor, a college woman who is integral to the collective—she’s