The author's tone seems... odd to me. Like some weird blend between formal/scholarly and humorous. I'm finding it a bit hard to peg down the voice.
I'm also feeling a bit lost at sea with the setting. I'd like a little bit more to go on *somewhere*... we don't know anything about the situation, the society or culture, anything except that it's in the Utah desert, and maybe, possibly, in the future? Or an alternate present? Leaving the reader to slowly discover some things is all well and good, but at least give us some sort of anchor. :/ Then again, I'm probably just being impatient.
And here we see one reason I would never make a good monk. Well, other than the obvious problem of gender. The minute someone tried to tell me to go out in the middle of the desert and live there without eating or drinking, or even speaking in the unlikely event that someone came by, would be the minute I'd tell them in enough graphic detail just what they could go do to themselves that I'd get chucked out, anyhow.
Not sure yet just what the unknown metallic strips in the ground are supposed to be. Or if they're supposed to be anything in particular. Wiring, maybe? I'm leaning more, as I read, toward a post-apocalyptic setting of some sort, but it seems weird that the society wouldn't remember electricity or wiring or anything of the sort, or even desert heat-mirages, and yet would remember things like "Utah" or organized religion... Iunno.
And a nice friendly buzzard looking at Francis with "motherly concern"? Yeah, I'm getting the impression more and more that Francis just ain't too bright.
And yeah, with the discussion of the dreaded beast the "Fallout," and how this Leibowitz dude was "possessed by one" (radiation poisoning I assume), and the Flame Deluge, definitely looking post-apocalyptic.
And as we get into the second chapter... I'm ending up with my mind in a very weird mental slot between The Name of the Rose, and the Fallout series of video games. o_O
The Age of Simplification concept seems interesting, and I suppose makes sense, if the world had (barely) survived a nuclear exchange. That might be more then enough to make most people willing to give up the modern life for a more simple one, if it prevented the possibility of such an apocalypse again. I'm not sure it would *necessarily* happen - people are pretty damn attached to the comforts of modern life after all, just that it's possible. Especially if the "comforts" part had been lost for a while due to living in Fallout shelters and the like.
Small tubular things with a "wire whisker" at each end. My first though was syringes of some sort, but the "shamans" swallowing them would seem to nix that idea. Given the radio chassis, I'm assuming... circuitry/electronic tidbits of some type?
The writing being from the fifth and sixth decade? Yeah, suddenly I'm reaaaally feeling like I'm walking into a book spin-off of the Fallout games. Although checking, I see this book was from the 60s itself, so that makes sense. But it's still a bit odd for one who's played the games!
"Not particularly intelligent insofar as he could determine"... glad I'm not the only one who thought so. ;)
Anyhow, at least now it looks like we get to get back to some meager semblance of civilization, in the next chapters. So we should get even more an idea of what's going on, and the state of things.
A reminder of the remainder of the schedule.