Dr. Durant Allegheny is on a quest. He thought he was trying to clear his mind and escape his past by hiking the Appalachian Trail with his ever-stoic companion Virgil, but it seems others have a higher purpose in mind for him. Allegheny, guided by the mysterious Padma, finds himself confronting the deadly sins of a modern age, from unbridled lust to the self-serving and unconcerned wealthy beneficiaries of the financial meltdown, to Allegheny’s own immeasurable pride. As he struggles to come to terms with what his life has become, will he open his eyes and take control of his future?
Some are already saying Bret Lowery’s American Inferno is destined to become a cult classic for a new generation, and they might not be too far off. Lowery’s wordy writing style is a little difficult to get into at first, but once you wrap your mind around his extensive love of adjectives, alliteration, and cultural and classical references, you’ll find yourself flying through the pages. Lowery writes like a man after my own heart; I gave myself a mental high-five every time I picked up on one of the more seemingly-obscure references, and his skilled use of language is a refreshing change from so much of the drivel that passes as modern literature today. The characters are not fully developed and many details about them seem to be absent, but that is part of the novel’s charm: readers are left to fill in some of the blanks on their own, creating greater opportunities to identify with the characters on a more personal level. At times you can’t be sure if Allegheny is on a drug-induced trip or lost in a state of personal psychosis, but regardless of how you interpret his reality, you can’t deny that American Inferno makes for compelling reading.
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