Saturday, May 10, 2014

Book Review: Humanity is the Devil by Jordan Krall

This review was originally meant to be posted on Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing, but the guy who runs it decided that this book didn't fit there. I'm not entirely surprised. This book is basically horror, but it's experimental to the point that a lot of speculative fiction fans might not get much out of it.

Hey, they took me on as the weird book guy, but I guess the stuff I read can get a little too weird for them. So let's take a look at Jordan Krall's Humanity is the Devil.

Giving a plot summary is difficult, because the plot is rather loose and scatter shot. The best summary I can give is that it revolves around a scheme by a Gnostic cult lead by a man named Seth to destroy all of humanity and, ultimately, the Demiurge. They engage in bombings, mass shootings and other terrorist actions.
Most of them could be defined as "acts of terror" but Seth wouldn't agree. They were his acts, yes, but he didn't consider them terrible.
In between the activities of the cult, we get glimpses into Seth's psyche in the form of his interactions with other members of the cult, his personal rituals and his visits with his therapist. For all the literary experimentation in this "anti-novel," Krall still manages to give significant development to his main character. It gives the book a center for those more used to conventional story-telling something to latch on to.
"Is that what you're afraid of? Being viewed as not being a good son?"
"I don't think so. I mean, I already know I'm not a good son. I just don't want to fight about it."
Many times, the narrative shifts focus to other characters who justify the claim made by the book's title. One of the more alienating parts readers may find in this book is Krall's short narratives about the worst that humanity has to offer. Rapists, child molesters and underground pornographers all make appearances. The stories within the larger story about these people would almost have you rooting for Seth's cult, but Krall doesn't go that route. Krall doesn't shy away from showing the pain and horror that Seth's cult inflicts on people, giving the book a heavy moral ambiguity.
You are but a clay vessel. You exist only to hold what is given to you by the Designer, the Grand Builder, the Demiurge. I will empty you of your broken light.
There are also several chapters that consist of free associations. These chapters contribute to the oppressive, disorienting and pessimistic mood of the book. They assault you with (seemingly) random words and phrases that are sometimes ugly, sometimes beautiful and often beautiful in their ugliness.
defiant disorder behavior disorder a weight reactions black to pain low animal lack of remorse strangers lack of ritalin clallam classical oppositional cruel and father operant release
I personally loved Humanity is the Devil. I found it to be a powerful attack of language on modern values, but it's a difficult book to recommend because of it's subject matter and because of how different it is from most books. I'd recommend it to any readers feeling particularly adventurous. If you've enjoy books such as William S. Burrough's Naked Lunch or JG Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition, you'll definitely enjoy Jordan Krall's Humanity is the Devil.

Buy Humanity is the Devil by Jordan Krall here. 

1 comment:

Ann Sterzinger said...

Sounds at the very least amusing... I'm game.