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From the publication of Jimmerson's own Gnomic texts, through the schism that rocks the Gnomic community, to the fateful gathering of the Gnomons in a mobile-home park in East Texas, Masters of Atlantis is a cockeyed journey into an America of misfits and con-men, oddballs, and innocents.
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By Rick on 12-23-17
Masters of Lunacy
The special skill of Charles Portis is an ability to spin a preposterous tale with a straight face, and this time he maintains the gambit for the length of an entire novel. It is the story of Lamar Jimmerson, who while serving in France in 1917 comes across a little book purporting to contain the secrets of the lost city of Atlantis. In no time at all, he is convinced by the tract full of puzzles and alchemy that his destiny is to lead the Gnomon Society.
It is a secret circle of earnest good intentions which, among many other things, offers a plan for the US to win World War II with the use of compressed air.
The collection of grifters and oddballs is another creation of rollicking, pure absurdity from Portis, in the manner of “The Dog of the South” and “Norwood,” all told as if it were perfectly logical. This is both its strength and its weakness. While “Atlantis” is the equal of the previous two in its delightful peculiarity, it probably goes on a little too long—as if only to prove it can be done. And while narrator Brian Emerson brings a sparkle to the yarn, I missed the deadpan drawl of David Aaron Baker that was such a highlight of the other two books.
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