In this intriguing philosophical novel, J.G. Renato borrows the character of John Galt from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Having “stopped the motor of the world” in Rand’s novel, Galt now experiences a spiritual awakening. With the aid of an Iowa farm girl who is part muse, part guru, Galt begins to explore the inner spiritual world after a lifetime as a materialist.
Galt begins to pay attention to what he terms “gaps”: brief, unbidden experiences where one perceives that the world may not be as it seems. He discovers a spiritual reality behind the veil of ordinary experience. For this spiritually awakened Galt, Rand’s famous question, “Who is John Galt?” is transformed into a more provocative question: “What is John Galt?”
In pursuit of this question about his own essence, Galt explores some of the classic problems of philosophy, East and West. He applies modern scientific concepts — from quantum physics to string theory — to questions about the nature of the mind and of reality itself.
This book joins its predecessor, Atlas Shrugged, among the ranks of novels that are philosophical treatises in disguise. However, its closest cousin is not Rand’s work but Robert Pirsig’s Zen And the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. With little action or dialogue, it reads like an extended meditation, a man ruminating to himself. Its flaw, to some readers, will be in its breezy discussion of age-old philosophical issues. Topics such as the mind-body problem and the nature of free will are discussed and resolved in a page or two. One wonders if the author intended to present a brief summary of more extensive deliberations or if he genuinely believes that his Galt has resolved The Big Questions.
Nonetheless, this appealing short novel is cleverly written, eminently readable, and appropriate for those who enjoy philosophical speculation delivered in small doses.
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