Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country (2018)
Politics & Resistance. Media Studies.
Like a lot of Americans, Steve Almond spent the weeks after the 2016 election lying awake, in a state of dread and bewilderment. The problem wasn’t just the election, but the fact that nobody could explain, in any sort of coherent way, why America had elected a cruel, corrupt, and incompetent man to the presidency. Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country is Almond’s effort to make sense of our historical moment, to connect certain dots that go unconnected amid the deluge of hot takes and think pieces. Almond looks to literary voices—from Melville to Orwell, from Bradbury to Baldwin—to help explain the roots of our moral erosion as a people. The book argues that Trumpism is a bad outcome arising directly from the bad stories we tell ourselves. To understand how we got here, we have to confront our cultural delusions: our obsession with entertainment, sports, and political parody; the degeneration of our free press into a for-profit industry; our enduring pathologies of race, class, immigration, and tribalism. Bad Stories is a lamentation aimed at providing clarity. It’s the book you can pass along to an anguished fellow traveler with the promise, This will help you understand what the hell happened to our country. . . read more
High Skies (2020)
Politics & Resistance. Fiction. US Regional, South. Novella.
High Skies recounts the collision of devastating weather, Cold War suspicion, tense race relations, and the unintended consequences of good intentions in a small West Texas town in the 1950s, changing the futures of the families there and altering their perceptions of America. At the center of this perfect storm is Raymond “Flyboy” Seaker, a respected military veteran, now the vice principal of a school in which Troy, who tells the story, and his disabled friend Stevie will have their lives upended forever. Through a combination of his own well-meaning ambitions and the political maneuverings of others, Flyboy and the families he serves come to grasp the meaning of community and of individual fortitude. Written with a vivid economy recalling Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams and painting as indelible a portrait of small town life as Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show, High Skies is a perfectly distilled American epic. . . read more
Her Sister’s Tattoo (2020)
Politics & Resistance. Fiction.
Rosa and Esther Cohen march through downtown Detroit in August 1968, protesting the war in Vietnam in harmony with their family’s tradition of activism. The march is peaceful, but when a bloodied teenager describes a battle with mounted police a few blocks away, the young women hurry to offer assistance. Trying to stop the violence, the sisters instead intensify it. An officer is seriously injured; they are arrested and charged with conspiracy and attempted murder. For Rosa, their arrest offers another way to protest an unacceptable war. Esther wants to avoid prison to stay home with her infant daughter Molly. She agrees to accept a plea bargain offer and testify against Rosa at trial. The consequences of these actions lead one sister underground and into prison, the other to leave town to bury her past in a new town, a new life. Molly grows up unaware of her family history until she meets Rosa’s daughter, her cousin Emma, at summer camp. Told from multiple points of view and through the sisters’ never-mailed letters, Rosa and Esther’s story is bracketed by the Vietnam and Iraq wars. It explores the thorny intersection of sibling loyalty and political beliefs. . . read more
Civilization Is Possible (2008)
Politics & Resistance. History.
Fifty years from now, historians will be identifying the criminality of the George W. Bush Administration. As these academics document their task they will be dependent on authors who were “in his face” at the time of these international crimes. Blase Bonpane believes that silence is complicity. Civilization is Possible identifies the crimes at the very time they were being committed. Aside from the weekly commentaries of Blase Bonpane, this volume also includes his personal interviews with like minded observers of the disastrous Bush years: Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Robert Fisk, Greg Palast and Peter Laufer. These are voices crying in the wilderness of rampant militarism, torture and collateral damage (murder). This toxic mix was nurtured by literally hundreds of lies coming from a failed administration that blatantly abused the sacred trust of our citizens. . . read more