Friday, November 11, 2022


Without the fantasy/horror elements, there are times when The Gospel of Now reads like an especially thrilling, extended episode of Stranger Things, conjuring images of teenaged characters caught in a socio-cultural set of chaotic and frightening circumstances that may lead them into complex and highly engaging situations - becoming an epic journey given the nature of the central image of the mushroom cloud that becomes a haunting symbol brandished upon the most surprising spaces - from football helmets to high school logos.

woodcut prints by the author, inspired by the work of Paul Gauguin and the German Expressionist Die Brücke

With woodcut prints by the author the book becomes an illuminated and illuminating journey chronicling one young man's journey through a particularly troubling period from history that changed the course of global destiny - an especially timely narrative in the midst of current international conflict.

Occullis's writing is crisp and detailed and moves at a rapid pace with the skill of a seasoned storyteller in touch with the emotions of each character. Ready to reveal their most innermost emotions, sensitivities, proclivities - the narrative engages, saddens, entertains, and surprises with it's seamless sequential style as a cast of teenagers and their frequently hapless parents all rise to the challenge of growing up/living in the US in the eighties and dealing with the aftermath of a town selected as the site for the construction of a profoundly deadly force still at work globally in the 21st century. Harrowing cinematic scenes occur within toxic physical and emotional sites, and the sense of a counter cultural force trying to transcend daily chaos shines through with each passing chapter. 

The opening lines set the stage for an experience many may relate to, as drug dependency, fashion, and music become, simultaneously, an environment about to be travelled through at high speed - ultimately becoming both a way in and a way out of social and cultural madness in all its glory and all its loss.

The day I quit taking Ritalin, I realized  was fucked.

Eighteen, uneducated, and dependent on a drug I couldn't afford without my father's health insurance - I was already a loser...

It was 1986, and my generation was the first in a century that wouldn't do as well as their parents. The music sucked, the clothes were shitty, and everything people valued seemed ridiculous. This is what happens when you elect a movie star as president.

Despite the intense trials and frightening global conditions that prevail - the microcosm and the macrocosm of this simultaneously local and global narrative - there is a strong sense of joy and survival underlying the seriousness and the challenging nature of the protagonist's intense trajectory. The Gospel of Now shines brightly with poignancy and electrifying storytelling as a testament to survival in a world where survival seems more and more fragile every day.

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