I don’t do reviews anymore. They came to drain too much of the fun from my reading, having to justify every opinion. I’m not into a lot of mindless entertainment, but it’s nice to sit back and let a book take me to where it wants to go. I enjoy regaining the ability to do that, and I plan to keep it that wat.
Not reviewing doesn’t mean I won’t recommend good books when I find them, whether they’re new or not. I finished Scott Phillips’s newest, Rut, the other night, and that’s as good a place as any to start.
Rut has the best post-apocalyptic premise I’ve seen yet: just keep doing what you’re doing, and this is where you’ll end up. The town of Gower CO has dropped off the Big Grid; everything is solar. People ride bicycles. The Tar-Mart truck delivers when the weather allows, which is only a few months a year. Summer is routinely over one hundred degrees, and snowfalls measured in feet begin as early as September. Fundamentalists rule many states. This is America after the Tea Party gets through with it. (That’s my observation. The book is as apolitical on these points as it can be.)
The strength of any Phillips book (The Ice Harvest, Cottonwood) is the characters, who are always believable, never ordinary. Rut is no exception. From Bridget the biologist to Darla the geriatric skank to Dr. Glaspie, the physician/veterinarian/self-ordained minister to half a dozen others, it’s the people and always spot on dialog that keeps the story moving. Their actions make sense in context, though that context is their own.
Writers who can envelope readers in their world as well as can Phillips are few and far between, Rut is an excellent example of why I always keep an eye open for his books.
The business of Rut’s printing is also ahead of the curve. Concord Free Press gives the book away, on three conditions: you promise to pass it along when finished, you promise to make a contribution to a local charity, and you promise to tell them who got the money. Kudos to Concord and Phillips for making Rut available in this manner. For readers, it’s a golden opportunity to read well while doing good.