Saturday, May 23, 2009

Next Ex-Lit Book Club selection is The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson

Here's the publishers blurb for the The Illuminatus Trilogy:

Joseph Malik, editor of a radical magazine, had snooped into rumors about an ancient secret society that was still alive and kicking. Now his offices have been bombed, he's missing, and the case has landed in the lap of the tough, cynical, streetwise New York detective Saul Goodman. Filled with sex and violence--in and out of time and space--the three books of The Illuminatus! Trilogy are only partly works of the imagination. They tackle all the cover-ups of our time--from who really shot the Kennedys to why there's a pyramid on a one-dollar bill - and suggest a mind-blowing truth.
The author of the Wikipedia entry has this to say:

The Illuminatus! Trilogy is a series of three novels written by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson purportedly between 1969 and 1971, and first published in 1975. The trilogy is a satirical, postmodern, science fiction-influenced adventure story; a drug-, sex- and magic-laden trek through a number of conspiracy theories, both historical and imaginary, which hinge around the authors' version of the Illuminati. The narrative often switches between third and first person perspectives and jumps around in time. It is thematically dense, covering topics like counterculture, numerology and Discordianism.

The following are excerpts are from Amazon reviewers that gave the book FIVE stars:

People love to point out, and attack, this book's muddled ideology, its ever-shifting style, its countless digressions, its violent swings between adolescent fantasies and serious philosophy, etc, etc, ad infinitum. To these people, I can only say, "Duh." This book, like most things RAW [Robert Anton Wilson] has worked on, is A TEST. It runs the gamut from Occultism to Solipsism to Libertarianism to Objectivism, and most of the things in between. Through it all, the narrative refuses to attach itself to one specific outlook. Why, you ask? - Varius, Pittsburgh PA
Illuminatus! is pershaps one of the most wonderful books I have ever read. The combination of occultism, anarchism, and outright wierdness carries the reader through the most bizzare conspiracy theory ever dreamt of. This book will make you laugh, rage, and probably cause you to become a bit paranoid. -J. French, Oakland California

This book changed my life in ways I never knew it could change. It shook my death grip upon the pillars of my so-called sanity loose and taught me a little bit about being more comfortable with myself, with acceptance, with tolerance, with sobriety, with religion, with spirituality, with consciousness, with unconsciousness, with love, with lust, with politics, drugs, sex, with cults, with fraternal organizations and all the other dirty subjects that people seem to "know" so much about around here. - John McLaughlin, Ladera Ranch CA

The following are excerpts are from Amazon reviewers that gave the book ONE star:

To be honest, I bought the book many years ago, after it came highly recommended by a friend. I did not read any reviews before I started reading it, because I wanted to keep an open mind. And oh boy, was I in for a surprise. I really, really, really tried to stick to it, but all I could get through was the first 130 pages. I must say that once in a while the narrative is quite interesting, but... Overall, it seems like the book was written by a undermedicated paranoid schizophrenic, who's been smoking something very illegal. I feel very sad and sorry for people, who thought this book was intellectual and profound. - JR, New Jersey wilderness
After several of my friends raved non-stop about the trilogy I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I was without a doubt the single biggest waste of my time. I tried to read it; I actually got through the first book and into the second one before my frustration overcame me. I did something that I have never done before I destroyed the book. I threw it into a foul disgusting gutter where it proceeded to fester and rot. I'm not kidding. I actually hated the book that much. Only the Mission Earth Series by L. Ron Hubbard comes close to being such a colossal stink bomb as this one. - A Customer
I know that this book's cover is really interesting, and that the synopsis is intriguing. That's why I bought the book in the first place. Well, I was duped. Like a fool, I and my money were soon parted. I wasted my money. Okay, first of all, this isn't a real conspiracy novel. It's an (intentionally) incoherent mess of rambling that happens to mention a lot of famous names. - A Customer

Oh what a long strange trip it will be. Come discuss this book discuss this book July 16th at the Main Library in Conference Rm 3 at 6pm. Feel free to bring food and drink.

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