Monday, November 15, 2010

Book: Rut, by Scott Phillips (2010)

Concord Free Press is giving away copies of Rut – even the shipping is gratis – to anyone who asks. All they request in return is that you pass along the book to someone else and make a donation to the charity of your choice. This Irish Times article by Declan Burke offers more detail on Concord’s philosophy.

Considering that Rut is written by the relentlessly inventive Scott Phillips, it comes as no surprise that the book is more fascinating than the story behind its publication. It’s a darkly comic dystopian vision set 40 years or so hence in Gower, Colorado, a town that once harbored Aspen aspirations but is now struggling to survive. America is no longer the world’s top dog, but the circumstances behind its decline are never explained. That’s ancient history to Gower’s townspeople, who have more pressing concerns like drinking, reminiscing, and screwing. Rut, as Phillips has pointed out, is both a noun and a verb.

The characters Phillips introduces – the government biologist who begrudgingly comes to Gower on assignment only to stumble onto the amphibian find of the century, the fundamentalist veterinarian turned school principal, the corrupt and randy mayor – are a truly memorable lot whose interactions move the plot in unexpected and unexpectedly moving directions. Rut is a bold, brash and funny book. However you score a copy, read it and marvel at how a world that’s dying can feel so alive.