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Dignity [Kindle Edition]

Ken Layne
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
Kindle Price: $2.99
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Book Description

A packet of hand-scrawled letters found in a stranger's backpack tells of self-sufficient communities growing from the ruins of California's housing collapse and the global recession. In unfinished Mojave Desert housing tracts and foreclosure ghost towns on the raw edges of the chaotic cities of the West, people have gathered to grow their own food, school their own children and learn how to live without the poisons of gossip, greed, television, mobile phones and the Internet. Encouraged by an enigmatic wanderer known only as "B," the communities thrive as more families and workers are discarded by an indifferent system. But this quiet revolution and its simple rituals cannot stay unnoticed for long, because the teachings of "B" threaten an entire structure of power and wealth dependent upon people toiling their lives away to buy things they don't need.

"But to understand the social mood as embodied by a group like Occupy, it may help to look at literature that captures its zeitgeist. One of the books that seems to have become a standard bearer for the Occupy movement is Ken Layne's 'Dignity.' In a book that can only be described as a series of modern-day letters on the gospel of communal simplicity, you can see what kind of world some of the Occupiers might envision: communities occupying vacant suburban or exurban subdivisions, farming the land themselves, bartering with doctors and the like, and shunning modern technology." -- Minyanville.com

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Dignity is an epistolary novel, as if it were Paul writing the Galatians. Layne takes on our separation from the land via our vampiric computer screens. A book that starts out cynical and frightening ends with hope." -FourStory

"In Ken Layne's new novel Dignity, abandoned housing developments and forlorn desert strip malls become a creche for a new society ... as refugees from the failing American economic system try to remake their lives. Highly recommended." -KCET Los Angeles

"The release of Layne's new novel, Dignity, seems to codify his ideas--the mystical power of the deserts of the American West and a populist fatalism--perfectly." -The Rumpus

About the Author

Ken Layne is the author of the novel "Dot-Con" and the upcoming "The Left Coast," his account of walking the California coastline from the Mexican border to San Francisco during the Great Recession. He lives in the Mojave Desert.

Product Details

  • File Size: 324 KB
  • Print Length: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Elora Peak Press; 1 edition (May 7, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004ZZTDXQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #840,178 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
(14)
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Luddites redux June 11, 2011
By Zwoof
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Although Dignity is easily read in an afternoon, I suspect it will remain a part of my consciousness much in the same way The Whole Earth Catalog has since 1968. One might say these fictional characters are kinder, gentler Luddites; and to a certain extent this is true, but it should be understood that the Luddites of 19th century England did not revolt against progress in general, but against the economic and social harm of automated looms that resulted in the loss of jobs for many skilled textile workers.

Rather than burn the mills and factories as did the followers of Ned Lud, the mysterious "B." and his disciples withdraw from the rat race, move off the grid, and forsake the Internet (including Wonkette) as modern society collapses around them following the housing crash. This movement to a communal, agrarian lifestyle poses the same threat to the powers that be however, and the hell hounds of capitalism are set on the peaceful communities.

The storytelling mechanism, a series of letters written over several years and delivered to the clandestine communities by courier to avoid detection, sometimes lacks continuity, but allows the reader to avoid too much character development, emphasizing that the movement is the main character.

Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So, I Kinda Felt Guilty Reading It On A Screen June 9, 2011
By KRM
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Over the years, Ken Layne's become one of my favorite authors (I would say bloggers, but I'm guessing I would be asked to leave the community). His sarcasm and acerbic wit have provided any number of laugh-out-loud moments. I still remember my favorite phrase that he ever wrote, which was, "...because it sort of sounds like these are terrible times for the Consumer -- who, by executive order, officially replaced the U.S. Citizen back in 1983."

While I love his current events-related writing, this work is nothing like any of that. Yet, still, it's excellent. Sure, you can detect commonalities between his half-decade of posting and Dignity. For example, even though he manages not to use the phrase "Anusburger" there's an obvious undercurrent of disdain for factory farming and such practices. But even those Layne-esque (you heard it here first) sentiments are just part of a larger narrative that is positive and interesting and hopeful - not to mention compelling. The novel's format itself works well for the effect he's trying to achieve and it ends up being quite a page turner. I grabbed it on a Kindle App this morning (my first ever eBook) and didn't put it down until just now. I don't want to go into detail about the world he creates, but it's fair to say that there's a lot more that could be written on the topic. It's not an entirely original concept, but his execution manages to avoid the usual post-apocalyptic cliches and focus on a more uplifting tone. Only at one point does a midget riding a giant march into the novel and take control of a community, for example.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I felt bad about reading this book on my iPhone, May 22, 2011
By John
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
but I did enjoy this story very much. I definitely recommend it to anyone who has an hour of time to read something on their electronic device.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big payoff June 27, 2011
By OhA
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It took me a bit to see where he was going with this but ultimately there's a lot to think about. Now can't get it out of my head and need to read it again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goddamn that's a beautiful book June 1, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Absolutely perfectly gorgeous, and much less cynical than I'd expect from Ken Layne. He limns a movement for the future, or for now.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Am looking forward to the print edition May 28, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ken Layne has long been one of my favorite political/social essayists and even if I've been disinclined to read anything on Kindle, I made the exception with his novel, "Dignity", because it isn't yet available in print and I was interested to see if he's as interesting a novelist as he is a pundit. "Dignity" does not disappoint. I found it difficult to put down (even on Kindle).

I want to share this book with several people (none of whom own kindles) and am looking forward to getting several copies for this purpose as soon as it is made available.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To My Friends At Amazon Kindle Store May 16, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Filter localism through a post-apocalyptic lense and you get an engaging look at what "society" truly means. Doom and gloom has never seemed so hopeful.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Big talent
Ken Layne is clearly a major talent, with a real nose for the zeitgeist. Hard to imagine a story more germane to our times, and one which doesn't just criticize the current state... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Robert E McLean
5.0 out of 5 stars Meditative
I have never been a big fan of epistolary novels. However, I was drawn into this one immediately. It's not so much a story as it is a meditation on our modern lives. Read more
Published on June 10, 2012 by Shannon
5.0 out of 5 stars A future view of society
Believable and thought provoking. Not science fiction, not historical fiction, but visionary fiction I guess you could say. A vision of what could happen.
Published on March 12, 2012 by Julia Buckley
5.0 out of 5 stars Populist Fatalism
I Reviewed this excellent book on The Rumpus (.net) earlier this year. I wrote, in part:

Layne also captures their spiritual needs in what is the most prominent... Read more
Published on November 25, 2011 by Caleb S. Cage
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read...
An unusual and welcome take on a version of "post-apocalyptic" America. Wonderful to read and beautifully told. Read more
Published on October 19, 2011 by Robert in Indiana
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring tedious repetitive screed
If everyone lived communally in abandoned houses, grew their own food, was vegetarian, celebrated the solstices and equinoxes, and avoided "the three poisons" (hint, I'm typing on... Read more
Published on August 18, 2011 by R. C. Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars Hopefully prophetic
Finishing off this fascinating yarn during the latest chapter of the ongoing Global Financial Apocalypse, it was easy to forget that I was reading fiction. Read more
Published on August 8, 2011 by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

"Layne's epistolary novel is not comparable to its classic predecessors like 'Frankenstein' or 'Dracula' but far more similar to the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Like Paul the Apostle's writings to the early churches after his conversion, the author of these letters, the mysterious 'N,' spreads similar messages. The difference, of course, is in the theology, which is more akin to the writings and views of John Muir and Edward Abbey." - The Rumpus

"But to understand the social mood as embodied by a group like Occupy, it may help to look at literature that captures its zeitgeist. One of the books that seems to have become a standard bearer for the Occupy movement is Ken Layne's 'Dignity.' In a book that can only be described as a series of modern-day letters on the gospel of communal simplicity, you can see what kind of world some of the Occupiers might envision: communities occupying vacant suburban or exurban subdivisions, farming the land themselves, bartering with doctors and the like, and shunning modern technology." -- Minyanville.com

"In style, 'Dignity' is an epistolary novel, as if it were Paul writing the Galatians. In theme, Layne takes on our separation from the land via our vampiric computer screens, and commands us back to nature. In focus are many of Layne's longtime obsessions: the housing market, the vulgarities of both rich and poor, the built environment .... A book that starts out cynical and frightening ends with hope." - FourStory.org

Ken Layne, the national correspondent for Gawker.com, is known for his "acerbic wit and devastating missives on the state of contemporary America," and has written for Tabloid.net, SPLOID and Wonkette. His new novel "Dignity" is a gripping denunciation of online media and the "void of the screen."

His first novel, the darkly comic thriller "Dot Con," focused on the greed of 1990s' Silicon Valley.

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