Freelance writer MatÇ's diatribe on the ills of the modern world serves up little in the way of originality, trotting out and castigating well-known villains—with a little too much cuteness and way too much glibness to be taken seriously. MatÇ isn't impressed as he surveys the state of our industrial society. We are desperately short on compassion, love, and vision; we suffer humiliating and trying jobs; live lives of little modesty, wisdom, sharing, or mystery. Our priorities are haywire, our land sacked, lives squandered, alienation complete. MatÇ's prescription is to scale back, to get simple, free, and passionate. His points can make good sense, and he can be engagingly brash. Worse, he can also be insulting, with his humor sophomoric, his sense of history woefully opportunistic, his own high regard infuriating, and his rural romanticism extreme. Does MatÇ really believe that ``in any poor country, where children rarely have a toy, with shacks for homes, rags for clothes, rice and beans year in and out, their eyes glow full of life''? And he won't win many converts when he scolds, ``I realize that most of you will recoil in mortal terror at the mere thought of having torn from you the wonders of the city—Dunkin' Donuts....'' The author casts his net of derision too broadly: We are all caught up in it, regardless of viewpoint or behavior. In the end, more time is spent ranting than envisioning, and a picture of the future never emerges. If MatÇ had been able somewhat to temper his own zeal, he might have claimed his place in the call for a sane world. As it is, his many good points expire as readers leave feeling unnecessarily insulted and confused.
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