Books

by Rob Hart
Polis Books, October 2016, $14.95

In Rob Hart’s South Village, Ash McKenna is attempting to drink away the memory that he once killed a man. While hiding out in a Georgia commune, a throwback to the ’60s and ’70s, Ash once again (after City of Rose and New Yorked) finds himself embroiled in a murder case. Victim Crusty Pete was a longtime member of the South Village commune, which was founded by wealthy “hippie” Tibo in order to create a home for alternate lifestyles. Supposedly all is peace and love in South Village, but as the book winds on, we are reminded that there is always a snake in every Eden. This particular snake takes the form of Marx, who is challenging Tibo for leadership, and whose political agenda may have more in common with eco-terrorism than it does peace and love. Marx is fond of saying, “It’s not terrorism if it’s done for the right reasons.” When another body is discovered in the forest surrounding South Village, Ash decides he has to stop drinking in order to separate the killer(s) from the hippies. Unfortunately, he has been drinking so long and so hard that he immediately suffers an attack of the DT’s, and his hallucinations (not to mention the shakes) threaten to short-circuit what had once been a fine brain. Although a man with many faults—fleeing prosecution for murder is just one of them—Ash remains a sympathetic protagonist. His fears about the direction society has taken sometimes mirror our own. Because of that, South Village will be a treat for any reader who was once involved in the hippie lifestyle. And for those who weren’t, South Village provides a fascinating look at a particular time in history when the “tune in, turn on, drop out” ethos appeared a viable alternative to uptight mainstream society. The book also informs us that, even today, some of these peaceful revolutionaries remain among us, quietly living their lives in small communes scattered throughout the United States. As another character in the book says, “Nothing ever has to be the way you think it should be.”

Betty Webb

hartsouthvillageA fascinating look at a particular time in history when the “tune in, turn on, drop out” ethos appeared a viable alternative to uptight mainstream society. 

Teri Duerr
5610
Hart
October 2016
south-village
14.95
Polis Books