A twelve-year-old boy, middle son in a wealthy, politically and culturally prominent San Francisco family, watches his city disappear in the earthquake and fires of 1906. His father him that nothing has been lost that cannot be swiftly and easily replaced. He quotes Virgil: “Nothing unreal is allowed to survive.” The boy turns this stark Stoic philosophical “consolation” into the radical theater practices of the day, in the course of which he involves himself with radical labor struggles: anarchists, Wobblies, socialists of every stripe. He learns that politics is meta-acting, and he and his girlfriend–a Connecticut mill girl who is on the verge of national recognition as a spokesperson for workers–embark on a speaking tour with a Midwestern anti-railroad, pro-farmer group and take their political, philosophical, and artistic ethos to the farthest limits of the real and the unreal, where they find there is no useful distinction between the two.
Although rich in anger and brutality, the stories collected in Visigoth are told with charm and a ranging, passionate intelligence.
Gary Amdahl’s vivid stories are at once lyrical and unexpectedly in your face. . . A book we’ll remember.
The men. . . . range from lotharios. . . to hockey jocks. . . But in Amdahl’s highly literary, tragicomic vision, they melt our doubting hearts.
These are smart, fully realized stories - sensitive, layered and deliberate ... there’s something freeing, refreshing, about Amdahl’s voracious, inappropriate Visigoths.