Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Great Peace by George Kittleman review

A small American city is under siege. A group of starving artists- led by a reclusive, sweatpants-wearing billionaire- are determined to overthrow the government by any means necessary. With little hope for peace, a neurotic young gadabout- fresh off a failed suicide attempt- takes it upon himself to save his hometown from ruin. Along the way he encounters revolutionaries, nitwits, weirdos, perverts, dreamers, and something called Danceramics. Humorous, absurd, and often profound, The Great Peace takes on art, politics, philosophy, and class with unflinching verve and wit.

4 stars

When I started to read The Great Peace I'll admit I really wasn't sure what to expect.  The first couple of chapters kept me guessing as I started the book, but the more I read the more I was pulled into the story.  Rufus Wiggin is a man whose father made enough money that he was comfortably distant from the reality of life.  Though when Polo Younger starts to build his power Rufus sees his frivolous lifestyle diminish.  His legendary parties begin to fall to the wayside and eventually he runs out of things to amuse himself with.  He decides to head to a local tavern and make a grand gesture by taking his own life after a poetic speech, dreaming of his own martyrdom.  After his attempt fails on every conceivable level, he lives and no one really cared that he tried to kill himself, he decides to watch the band that is playing their final show ever.  The music speaks to him and awakens a desire for life that he had been missing.  His first interaction with the band members really doesn't go according to plan, although it does have some decent hilarity for the reader.  

As Rufus gets to know the band members he becomes more conscious of the struggle that people who don't have a nearly unlimited bank account are going through.  Polo Younger worked his way through the bureaucracy using the apathy of existing members with his extremely deep pockets to start a movement giving him as much if not more power than the city council.  He has his own thug squad that patrols the street and make sure that no unlawful art is being produced.  

The book has a very dystopian feel reminiscent of 1984 by Orwell.  There are also several humorous descriptions used by Rufus to describe Polo.  I'll have to say I was surprised how interested in the book I became since it had such an unusual (for me) story.  The way the characters were written and the interactions they had were where the appeal came from for me.  Rufus was a guy who was evolving through the story, first he just wanted to change and thought a simple thing would do it, but he actually began to see why evolution was required.  Satch was also a great character, although he mainly provided a bit of comic relief.  

The author has a lot of time invested in various forms of art so there is some insider knowledge when it comes to some of the things discussed in the book.  Personally I have no talent in any kind of artistic endeavor so I never would have thought about a lot of the more serious aspects of this book without being exposed to them through reading it.  The book does a wonderful job of presenting a rather serious topic without taking itself too seriously.  The conflict of freedom of expression vs censorship from those in power is a prevalent theme through the book, although to be honest I'm not sure censorship is actually the best word to describe the situation.  This is a great book if you liked 1984 or if you are just looking for a unique story set in a slightly altered America.

If this sounds like a book for you check out the Amazon listing, or get more info from the author's webpage, or you can always stop back by tomorrow for my interview with the author here on the Indie Book Blog.


  1. I love it when I get to learn about something in a book that I'd never normally encounter in day-to-day living. Sounds like there's some cool stuff on art in here. Thanks for sharing your review!

    1. Yeah this book was a gem that I wouldn't have searched out on my own for sure. It was great that I got a review offer from the literary publicist for the author.