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Kalki by Gore Vidal

Kalki (1978)

by Gore Vidal

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Showing 5 of 5
my first taste of Vidal and it's certainly not what i expected. the wit and sophisticated ideas, i did expect. what came as a surprise was the dark humor and satire- but also the science fiction. yes, science fiction. i said it.

i expected it to be a satirical indictment of cultish religiosity and several other things including heterosexuality, paternalism, the entertainment industry, pop culture, et al. and so it was. but then, like some "magic eye" image or masterful optical illusion, it became a work of science fiction. i won't say why because i want you to find out as i did and be as shocked as i was. in less than 300 pages, Kalki sprawls out over all of these subjects and more all the while delivering a rich story with complex and interesting characters. granted, most of them suffer little to no development, acting mostly as stock obstacles that challenge the protagonist and her cohort, but they are, nevertheless, distinct individuals that breathe.

in addition to its biting criticism, it taps into the deeper waters of mythology and unconscious, human archetypes a la Jung and Campbell. the central religion is Hinduism and the main character makes no bones about being atheist- this creates a kind of distance from which Christianity can be viewed and critiqued.

and, it's funny. i mentioned that briefly near the top but i want to emphasize how much it delighted me to find some really, effing funny parts in the story and prose. the story itself is not full of irony or extremely ironic but really is a kind of avatar of irony; just as Kalki is the 10th and last avatar of Vishnu/Siva.

i'm going to see about reading some more of Vidal's books. i truly do not expect to find one that tickles me as much as this one did. but, then, i didn't expect this one to do that either. ( )
1 vote keebrook | Mar 10, 2015 |
Not just your plain everyday end of the world tale! This novel, written in the 1970s, is more of a sociopolitical statement than a novel. Using the Hindu concepts of Vishnu come again as avatar Kalki, to end the current era of human life on earth, the protagonist manages to manipulate the masses in order to achieve his own ends. Not only does he manipulate the common person on the street, but he is able to successfully manipulate Congress, the Chinese Mafia, and the CIA to his own ends. Charisma and intellect combined create a dangerous entity! Yet, without spoiling the book for anyone, I would have to say that if the reader is not enjoying the author's sociopolitical commentary in the first two thirds of the book, the final third is just a great ending to the entire novel, satisfying in many ways! ( )
2 vote hemlokgang | Apr 9, 2012 |
A surprisingly good novel. Somehow the subject matter, does not at first appeal, but within the context of when it was written, it makes sense. I've always enjoyed Vidal's wit and style. I'd recommend this if you do to. ( )
1 vote Borg-mx5 | Feb 13, 2010 |
This forgotten novel by Gore Vidal both entertained and enthralled me when I read it in the early 1980s. The most startling part for me was at the end when only two human beings are left on earth. Vidal describes how quickly nature comes back to cover up man's highways, buildings and bridges. In no time New York City has reverted to a forest with animals roaming. What a wonderful day that would be! ( )
  BrokenSpines | Dec 24, 2008 |
A wacky counterculture view of the U.S. as susceptible to anyone with a messiah complex. In this case, the messiah presents himself as the Hindu god of destruction. Like many of Vidal's novels, way too heavy-handed at times. ( )
1 vote scootm | Jul 12, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141180374, Paperback)

Bestselling author Gore Vidal joins the ranks of Penguin Classics. To satisfy a public that longs for a savior, Vidal's eponymous hero of KALKI, born and bred in America's Midwest, establishes himself in Nepal, puts out the word that he is the last incarnation of the god Vishnu, and predicts an imminent apocalypse meant to cleanse the planet.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:03 -0400)

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Is the ex GI posing as Kalki, an ancient Hindu diety, running an international drug ring or bringing about the destruction of the world?

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