Lev Grossman on C. S. Lewis
Niebuhr's pessimism

American Neolithic

American NeolithicAmerican Neolithic by Terence Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imagine that a small band of Neanderthals survives in contemporary America. Imagine also that after another terrorist attack the US goes even further to the right, amending the Constitution expanding governmental power and limiting civil liberties because of "national security" and that the Religious Right has gained even more political power, basically enacting the laws that they've been wanting to enact for thirty years. Now imagine the Neanderthals encountering that America. It won't go well for anyone.

That's the premise of this cross-genre novel by Terence Hawkins, who it was my pleasure to befriend while attending this year's Yale Writers' Conference. Terry, a Yale alum and local New Haven attorney, is the director and guiding spirit of the program. Rumor has it that the participants enjoy each other so much and the program works so well because everyone is hand-selected by Terry. If so, I'm even more honored that I made the cut, for he is a funny, charming, smart, encouraging, and dapper man. But enough with the flattery. This novel is fantastic.

Terry's humor is wickedly sarcastic. I'm sure knowing him (and having heard him read a few passages) influenced my reading of the book, because I could hear his voice and his actual sense of humor the entire time I was reading. But you don't have to meet Terry to find this book funny.

And it is funny, right up through the point that it's frightening. Because it is ultimately a commentary on what might have happened to America, and theoretically still could, if the anti-terror and theocratic forces were to gain even more control.

So, whether you like a good story, engaging characters, witty and insightful writing, or being made to think about serious issues, you might enjoy this book.

View all my reviews

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