Only Americans Burn In Hell - Jarett Kobek

Only Americans Burn In Hell is Kobek's latest book of rantings and musings on the state of the world. It's a novel, but much more than just a story.

Jarett Kobek rose to prominence in 2016 with I Hate the Internet , which I read last spring, and really enjoyed. It was a refreshing book, which served a vehicle for Kobek to air his views on modern life, mainly the internet and the multi-billion dollar companies running the show. This is his second book since then - 2017's The Future Won't Be Long was largely ignored. Only Americans... picks up where The Internet left off, and at times feels like an update on what Kobek has been up to since then, and what he makes of what has been going on in the world. Expect lots of criticism of Trump, the people who voted for him and the system that allowed him to become the President of the United States. I know, that's a tired topic now, but Kobek manages to keep a fresh, entertaining look on things. For example, he uses the protests against Trump which took place outside of Trump Towers, when the main man wasn't there as a great metaphor for how democracy works. Kobek isn't just angry or cynical for the sake of it - it's not just to be edgy or for cheap laughs, each of his points and ramblings is thought out, informed and has an almost poetic edge. It's thought provoking and funny, and also at times an education. It's like being cornered by a drunk man, rambling and raving. Then as you walk away you realise he did have a point after all.

Don't be fooled into thinking this is a one trick pony. Yes, Trump pops up a lot in this book, but Kobek delves into seemingly thousands of topics. Each new chapter brought an exciting wonderment of what we're getting stuck into this time, and we go from black metal to Twitter to Snapchat to Game of Thrones (pornography about war) to the University of New York using slave labour to build their Abu Dhabi campus - this particular topic is dealt with on page 2. Kobek doesn't mess about.

There's an entertaining passage about people who review books online too. In particular, Kobek mentions people who compared I Hate The Internet to Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions. Oh. I did that. And it made the book much funnier for it. If I can laugh at all these other things, I have to be able to take it when it's my turn. In Kobek's eyes, we are not worthy to be reviewing books online. "Bullshit instant commentary by the stupidest people on the planet." Ouch. Sorry Jarett, I was sent a copy of Only Americans by your publisher, Serpents Tail, I'm kind of obliged to review it. Otherwise I'd avoid it - I'm worried I'll be writing more clichés, and you kind of scare me. 

There is a story which threads all of these musings together. It's a fantasy tale about the queen of Fairy Land travelling to modern day Los Angeles. It's great in itself, but it very much is here to give Kobek a platform to air his views, and acts as a thread to hold it all together. It's a big allegory to, for those of you who are into that sort of thing.

But there's an ending to it all which offers a little bit of comfort. It wasn't immediately clear what the ending's all about, but with some reflection it makes a whole heap of sense. Kobek is self aware. And extremely talented. I can't wait to read the next one in a couple of years.


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