A strange history of the future

Did you remember that this May marks the 400th anniversary of Jamestown? Neither did we. The story of America’s first English settlement has provided plenty of modern entertainment — from Disney’s animated Pocahontas (Mel Gibson as the voice of John Smith!) to Terrence Malick’s The New World, starring Colin Farrell’s long, scraggly hair. Now, happily, we have Matthew Sharpe’s new novel, Jamestown, an entertainingly warped reimagining of the founding of America.

The story takes place in a nebulous future, where the world has apparently crumbled into a dystopia; Manhattan and Brooklyn are at war, water has become toxic, and a motley crew of men head south on I-95 in search of trade. The original elements of the Jamestown/New World story are all here but have been distorted into a kaleidoscope of literary and historical references mixed with MySpace lingo and enough scatological jokes to embarrass the South Park boys. History — let alone the hellish future — has seldom been this fun.

“>BUY Jamestown (Soft Skull Press; 320 pages; hardcover)

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A strange history of the future