Part one of a trilogy
By Russ Lippitt

One timeless genre in the world of fiction is that of political dissent in the face of an oppressive regime. I have written one such novel, so many of my contemporaries have, and obviously, in “Rise of the Anarchy March”, Russ Lippitt has – the results being as brilliant and visceral as anything which has gone before it.

Novels of this genre will always be needed because they will always be relevant. Even if the condition in the writers home nation is stable, there will always be oppressed nations. The precedent for this genre, 1984, was inspired by Stalin’s Russia – “Rise of the Anarchy March”, although set it the United States, has been written in a time of such regimes in Zimbabwe and North Korea.

Whilst we will always need such novels, the history of strength behind them, and the sheer volume of such works produced, means that everybody who tackles this genre is faced with the unenviable task of doing something different with it; something which sets it apart. How has Lippitt achieved this? By creating something so fresh that it is a rather exclusive genre: “The Punk Rock Novel.” Now, before we go any further I should probably point out that I don’t look like the usual literary critic – I wear two rings in my nose, have green and black hair and am currently wearing some tartan tights with a “Sniffin Glue” fanzine cover t-shirt. Naturally the concept of such a genre is going to excite me somewhat. But the point is, in 2010, punk is still reaching out to me and millions of others; it will never really die. Thus, in writing “The Punk Rock Novel” Lippitt has an eager demographic waiting.

Punk is a counter culture, but a counter culture born of pop culture. Some critics, then, may claim that there is no need for a literary genre based around punk – literature is all to often seen as a preserve of “high culture.” But critics with this attitude are so wrong – this way of thinking is a surprisingly modern invention. Very recent years have seen pop culture and high culture merging once again, but for a long time now one has been elevated at the expense of another. This has been the curse of the terms “high culture” and “pop culture” being created. In fact, some of our earliest literature, now regarded as “classics”, were an attempts at mass communication which could indeed be seen as “pop culture.” Geoffrey Chaucer attempted it with “The Canterbury Tales.” Nobody attempted it more than Charles Dickens. Lippitt might be doing something new, but he is very much in a grand tradition.

F.T.W – the rise of the Anarchy March will reach so many – not just those who would readily use the label “punk”, but anybody who is disillusioned. I have already mentioned Orwell – by writing in Orwell’s tradition of simple, unadorned language and “never using a long word were a short one will do”, Lippitt has created a highly readable piece. This style of prose creates something highly visceral – take this section for example:

“The guard let out an excruciating scream as his clothes began to melt away and his hair fell to the ground with pieces of hair still attached. The burning gas stuck to his skin and ate at it, reducing the skin to a lifeless goop. The guard went down into a foetal position as the pain became increasingly more unbearable. The gas seeped through his flesh and bones, leaving only a pile of mush.”

F.T.W The Rise of the Anarchy March takes terrifying themes and makes them accessible without losing any of their effects. Unlike many other political writers, this means that Lippitt is doing much more than preaching to the converted. This is a novel which turns literature into something it should have always been: A means of communication in which the reader seeks to find the answers.

Amy Britton