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X Out of Wonderland: A Saga Hardcover – September 13, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set adrift by sudden unemployment, the Candide-like protagonist of this biting satire of modern capitalism encounters other denizens of a dystopian Wonderland, including a con woman who mails bogus consulting bills to random businesses, some of whom pay up; a boy obsessed with sex; and a woman in pink lamé with a "background in medieval history and retail sales." Sustained by faith in the "Global Free Market," they endure sweatshops, war and the incessant search for employment amid nonstop economic upheaval. Their calamities are soothed by a culture of inane uplift: workplace fatalities are papered over with grief counseling, management celebrates the diversity of its viciously exploited labor force and the Panglossian Dr. Fingerdoo urges mourners at a funeral to "visualize success." It's a funny caricature, but Cates (Hunger in America) gets at something subtler. In a society that extols nomadism and gnawing insecurity as "Mobility and Choice," his characters surrender individual autonomy—and responsibility—to the mysterious workings of the market, concluding that the world is a "big wind" that "lifts and flaps us like sheets on the line, and our one true choice is to hang on or not." Cates delivers a caustic but never cynical take on what he sees as the demoralizing fatalism implicit in today's market-mad ideology.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Voltaire's eighteenth-century satire Candide poked fun at the philosophical notion then in vogue that we live in "the best of all possible worlds." Closely imitating the format and plot of Voltaire's classic but updating its biting wit for modern readers, Cates skewers the current capitalistic enthusiasm for free trade while following the fortunes of a man known simply as X. Hailing from the euphemistically named Wonderland (a thinly disguised U.S.), X has a thriving career as radio talk-show host, and his love life looks bright after he meets his soul mate, a woman named C. Then a sudden tornado destroys his home, separates him from C, and leaves him homeless. His ensuing journey takes him across the globe in a series of misadventures in which his fortunes alternate between prosperity and destitution. Only the roving Dr. Fingerdoo's philosophy--that optimism and positive thinking create wealth--sustains him. Cates drives home with painful black humor the inequities of a global economy. Perhaps this should be required reading for die-hard capitalists and corporate CEOs. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Steerforth; First Edition edition (September 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158642095X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586420956
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,166,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Allan Cates is the author of five novels. His most recent novel is "Tom Connor's Gift," winner of a gold medal in the 2015 Independent Book Publishers Book Awards for best fiction in the Mountain West.

His first novel, "Hunger In America," was a New York Times Notable Book. His second and third novels, "X Out Of Wonderland" and "Freeman Walker," were both Montana Book Award Honor Books, and his fourth novel, "Ben Armstrong's Strange Trip Home," also won a gold medal in the 2013 Independent Book Publishers Book Award.

He was given the 2010 Montana Arts Council's Artist Innovation Award in prose and his short story, "Rubber Boy," (Glimmer Train 70) was a distinguished story in the 2010 Best American Short Stories. His stories and poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines, and his travel articles in Outside Magazine and the New York Times Sophisticated Traveler.

Cates is also the executive director of Missoula Medical Aid, which leads groups of medical professionals to provide public health and surgery services in Honduras. He is a part-time faculty in Pacific Lutheran University's Pacific Lutheran University's low-residency MFA program. For many years he worked as a fishing guide on the Smith River and raised cattle on his family's farm in Wisconsin.

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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Cates does an interesting job of poking fun at the "global free market" and those who believe in it. When bad times fall on the eponymous protagonist, he embraces his newfound freedom. Eventually, though, it becomes clear that much of the economic success and failure has nothing to do with optimism and everything to do with luck.

The farce is great. The understanding of how the global economy works and the origins of our market system is sublime.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Knapp on May 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read 'Candide' more than 40 years ago (and had forgotten all about it). 'X Out of Wonderland' was a flashback to the effect.
It shames me to note that I was drawn to 'X' because I thought it was a critique of global economics telling me what I wanted to hear. Fortunately, 'X' is far more sophisticated. My base motives were disappointed, and I am better for it. David Allan Cates writes a surprisingly even-handed, nonjudgemental, matter-of-fact sort of story. 'X' is humorous, provocative, titillating, entertaining. Its style invokes motion of the mind. Serious & wise ebb & flow with ridiculous & foolish. It wanders. It moves fast. It's tornadic. An expose' of life and the human condition, 'X' reveals fragility & resilience, opression & victory, dispair & unfettered optimism. Most of all, 'X' is about the interconnectiveness of human life. We see the-way-things-are in 3rd person detachment. I like how the book left me feeling.
"And all we can hope for is to be fondly remembered."
"Here's to luscious serving wenches!"
Nah... It can't be summarized with quote bites. It took David Allan Cates 141 pages. Ya gotta read the book to get the feeling if you're gonna understand.
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By ryan on May 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I really liked story. It was funny, because i read the first two sentences and threw the book down, thinking that it was horrible. Later I read a bit farther, and didn't set it back down til I finished (its a fast read). Anyways, I wish that Cates was given more credit because I think that this is an awesome satire!
-also I recommend this book to all of my friends..
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Format: Hardcover
A fun, quick easy read, and incredibly prescient, as several of the disasters that befell X have actually occurred in real life since the book was published in 2005.
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5 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Logan K. Montgomery on November 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
X Out of Wonderland is not for everyone. It is a commentary on corporations and the business side of cglobalization screw people over. Mainly poor people in poor countries. And example of this is when a company called Bechtel (Donald Rumsfeld was closely involved with it)worked with the government of Bolivia to privatize the drinking water there. They then sold the water at outrageous prices making the poor people have to choose between drinking water or say, going to the hospital, or sending their children to 2nd grade. The general population rioted and got the privatization overturned.

I told the above story for a reason. First of all, its true, and people should know about it. If you dont believe this is true or possible, you wont like this book. Its very abstract. It jumps around alot, and when reading it for example, I felt vaguely as if I was on a LSD trip, because the story is so bizarre.

If you dont agree with the authors beliefs already, you wont like this book. Even if you do agree, there is a good chance you wont like this book.
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