4 Stars - Strongly Recommended
If you were lucky enough to survive a nuclear holocaust, would you rebuild civilization to mirror what you lost? Could humanity really be that stupid?
The Good and the Ghastly is a gritty, harsh look at what happens when humans refuse to lie down and play dead. Part Palahniuk's Fight Club, part Burgess's Clockwork Orange, James Boice brings the violence and rocks it horrorshow-like. (Did I really just say that?)
This book is like one swift, bloody kick to the head. With ears ringing, vertigo setting in, and stars swimming at the corner of your vision, Boice drags you into his world, a world that exists over 1000 years in the future, and you have no choice but to let him.
In his world, Boice has uncovered a bizarre, twisted version of the Amercia we have come to know and love - A Second America that probably should not have been allowed to exist, if we knew what was good for us.
Second America rises out of the ashes that covered the earth as the result of a devastating nuclear war. While most of the planet keeled over and died, there were pockets of survivors who struggled to regain and rebuild what they had lost. And they had lost everything. Over the course of many centuries, our American history seems to have been warped and confused and misremembered:
*The citizens of Second America believe that Oprah was a great philosopher.
*They believe that Stephen King wrote Shakespeare's plays and many of the classic lit novels.
*They think Bob Dylan was responsible for all great music like "Imagine", "All You Need is Love", and "Even Flow".
*They celebrate "Gift Giving Holiday" and "Overeating Holiday".
*They call God "Kevin Lithis" and believe that "Smuck" is a curse word.
*They keep Deer as pets.
*Visa owns everything!
It's like waking up from a cozy, dreamy slumber only to realize that you are living in a nightmare from which you can't escape. There seems to be no real government, and the trickiest, nastiest men play the people and the police like little puppets. It's the good versus the ghastly, and the good don't last too long. Not under the watchful, evil eyes of Uncle Antonio and his hand-picked protege Junior Alvarez - a young street thug who quickly overthrows his maker to take his place as criminal Overlord.
This novel is filled with senseless violence. It's raw and angry and ugly. It's embarrassing, actually. Nearly wiped clean off the face of the planet due to our greedy egotistical nature, and what do we do? Do we sit back and take stock of what's truly important in life? Do we realize the errors of our ways and attempt to right a terrible wrong by changing who we are? No. Of course not. We race ourselves to the finish line to see who can get the internet and cell phones and automobiles back up and running. We push and shove and fight to be on top. We destroy an opportunity to be a better species, and we fuck it all up by being us.
A clever, satirical look at the future we are building for ourselves. Quite possibly, it could be seen as a warning - "This could be us! Turn back now, while we still have time!"
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