WHAT MY BOOKS ARE ABOUT

December 14, 2019

THE VETERAN. (Publication date: March 1, 2020). This novel portrays a young World War II vet coming home from the war in the Pacific with all of his instincts firing on sexual expression, perhaps as an innate response to all the death and destruction he has witnessed. While taking his place in society as a family man and schoolteacher, these instincts keep undermining him. His family collapses, and he tries hard to cling to the former attachments, by the end of the book seeking a reconciliation with his second wife. In my mind, Joe Dover is trying to be civilized, but he isn't very good at it, and I wonder if civilization, with all its social and political inconsistencies, isn't as much the problem as Joe's instincts are. The novel is set in Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest, and (mostly) in California between 1946-1974, and raises questions about the social lives of families during that turbulent time.

 

600PPM, A NOVEL OF CLIMATE CHANGE. The resistance of oligarchical elements of American society and government to science is dramatized as a form of murder in this futuristic dystopian novel. A literal murder occurs, and Jeff's best friend is charged as the perpetrator, and is convicted and sentenced before Jeff can figure out that he himself was actually the intended target of the frame-up conducted by intelligence operatives in the oligarchy's service. What's wrong with a little paranoia?

 

The novel was written in 2014, and is set in the year 2051. The floods, the droughts, the diminished crop yields, the dislocated populations, all these nightmares associated with our climate disruption are envisioned in the book as having gotten really serious in the year 2025. I was way off, wasn't I? It's actually deteriorated badly in just the past few years, and the resistance to settled science is slowly breaking down. Still, we continue to see stubborn deniers in positions of great power, and it's these folks who are depicted in the novel as the villains. I think of the whole murder story as a metaphor for today's climate science denial.

 

SON OF YAHWEH (2013). This book engages in the experiment of treating the Gospels and the Book of Acts as if they were ordinary fictional narratives, while explicitly recognizing that they are not ordinary fictional narratives.  The reason for treating them so is to reveal a literary understanding which has nothing to do with doctrine. The book makes at least a plausible argument that the first gospel may have been written as a response to cultural genocide, after the destruction of the Jewish temple at Jerusalem in 70 C.E. It thus becomes an allegory of the resurrection of the human spirit following the calamity of a cultural death-blow; an image of the diaspora as the Hellenization of moribund tribal identity transformed into the image of survival, resistance, and triumph. As one of its readers says, the book is "not for the timid or insecure."

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