You may be familiar with Ken Layne’s work through his wonderful magazine / field guide Desert Oracle, and its audio companion Desert Oracle Radio. Dignity acquaints us with yet another side of Layne’s work in this beautiful epistolary novel about going back to nature in a world increasingly collapsing due to greed and lack of ethics. A story of hope and strife that leaves one hoping Ken Layne has more novels on the way.
Dignity is a utopian/dystopian novel by Ken Layne originally published on April 22nd 2011, and currently available from Desert Oracle Books.
Told through a series of letters, Dignity tells the story of a group of friends that take on the horrors of society by leaving it behind in search of a more natural way of life. They don’t plan a revolution but rather fall into one through life style changes. Several times they are infiltrated and the powers that be fight back as they feel threatened by the throwing off of an outdated and failing system.
Praise and critiques:
Dignity is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and I dare say that it is a masterpiece. Layne masterfully build characters that are for the most part only present off of the page, and at the same time showing us a landscape that may be familiar but shines with a new beauty through the intense yet simple language of the book. One could almost look at this book as a manual for how to live in harmony with the natural world and ones fellow human beings. The adversity that the people in the book face, while they have done nothing but try to take care of themselves and neighbors, is strikingly accurate and exposes how fragile yet paranoid the systems that claims to uphold our society truly are. This book is a quiet and peaceful protest against everything we know to be wrong but have come to accept and take for granted. Overall a beautiful story with loveable characters and a blueprint for what is possible as we face environmental and societal break down.
Fans of epistolary storytelling and stories of hope despite inevitable collapse will love this book.
5 of 5, a beautiful and thought provoking book.