When I first started THE GOSPEL OF ANARCHY, by Justin Taylor, I wasn’t sure if I liked it. But I realized my reading pace was quick, like when I really really like a book. I read 140 pages in one day, actually, a work day even. It was around page 140, when I closed the book for the night, that I realized what is so great about this book- it’s open-mindedness and inclusiveness.
THE GOSPEL OF ANARCHY is entirely open to interpretation, which is made even more interesting by the fact that it’s about religious people and religious experience. There are characters undergoing every degree of religiousity, from atheist to believer, which means there’s something for everyone to be intrigued by and relate to. I think it’s really special when a novel can have such prismatic insight, give voice to such diverse and intense beliefs. Even though his writing style is completely different, Taylor reminds me of Marilynne Robinson, in that when his characters are religious, I can see them and their beliefs as real and not caricatures, and his characterization of faith isn’t grating or phoney. It’s admirable that I can’t tell where he stands in this polemical line.
The setting and trappings of anarchy are an unlikely pairing to a Christian mindset, the juxtaposition of which isn’t lost on even the characters in the book. At one point, they go to a church and feel like they don’t belong, despite their deep spirituality. But as far as THE GOSPEL OF ANARCHY, one starts to forget about the dumpster diving and the bi-curious orgies and focus on the stuggles of various characters about what they think is the meaning of life.