I continued preparing for the next cycle, probing strangers for the next Razor Finger, keeping my eyes open and taking notes. Because there’s aHelp Wantedsign in every window, and I’m scared…
Evasion is one man’s tale of being unemployed. A CrimethInc. publication — spun out of a ‘zine of the same name — it recounts the anonymous author’s journeys across the United States over the course of about a decade, from his high school graduation until the book’s publication. The chapters are presented non-chronologically, and rather aptly my copy seems to have been stolen from a library in Ohio. I’m not really sure how it found its way to England, but that just adds to the mystery.
Our hero, one
Mack Evasion, bums around the United States shoplifting, scamming, dumpster diving and generally being a gadabout. Along the way he ruminates on the merits of unemployment, and it’s hard for the life described not to appeal at times:
Poolside, I thought about adventure, youth, other towns with bigger palm trees, seizing the day, life, love, regret… I reclined in the cushy lawn chair, staring into the sky, drinking fruit juice… well, it all just seemed like I had won, you know?
It’s understandable why the author would have chosen to remain anonymous — the book is a laundry list of felonies, from breaking & entering to statutory rape, and I imagine a small police department could make a year’s worth of its targets by nabbing him. I’m curious as to how he avoided capture though, considering the Introduction from one
Holden Caulfield Commando suggests that he put his email address in the original ‘zines. Being a middle-class white boy probably didn’t hurt matters though.
Mack paints a largely rosy picture of full-time unemployment and bagel scrounging, which makes the odd slip of the façade all the more startling. For example, after breaking into a derelict house that would serve as his home for a time, he observes
beer cans, fragments of smashed walls, items of female clothing telling an uncomfortable story. Immediately after, however, he’s back to singing the praises of bagels and return fraud and the dark realities of homelessness are sidelined again.
Mack’s political leanings, the book is obviously of an anti-establishment bent but the author seems uninterested in grand theorising:
my friends and I had long considered ourselves anarchists, if you forced us to put a name on it and temporally concern ourselves with the narrow issue of the political arrangement of one species on earth he wrote in the ‘zine HeartattaCk. Then again, part of CrimethInc’s (and post-left anarchism in general’s) point is that anarchism should be an intensely personal experience. As
Holden Caulfield Commando writes:
For the fact is, all solutions are individual solutions, or else this revolution business is just another way to force the masses into lockstep.
The issue with this kind of meandering travelogue, and the same issue I had with On the Road, is that there’s not a lot of variation or pacing changes.
Mack goes to a town, does much the same things he did at the last one, then moves on to repeat the cycle. On the Road at least had the beautiful final chapter in Mexico to act as a sort of dramatic culmination — Evasion just sort of ends (with that poolside quote above).
Mack apparently planned to write a sequel, but whether or not that will ever happen is hard to tell. If it does,
Mack’ll have to find some way to shake up the formula or it’ll be an incredibly redundant book. Maybe he could try upping the difficulty a bit and moving away from white suburban America.