Captives by Todd Hasak-Lowy

Captives by Todd Hasak-LowyI have to admit my interest in the novel Captives by Todd Hasak-Lowy had a lot to do with a desire to see how what has become known as Bush Derangement Syndrome might get played out in a fictional work.

Let’s avoid for now, the discussion of whether BDS is an actual phenomenon or simply a creation of the fevered minds of right-wingers.  Put aside the author’s perspective, the emotions and opinions are certainly out there and an active part of culture and politics.  The question was: could someone take this issue/concept and make something intelligent of it.

To set the story up, and give you a sense what prompted these thoughts, here is the publishers description:

A sniper is taking down suits and politicians—in Daniel Bloom’s head.

Bloom is the kind of guy who ends most social gatherings with an alternately raging and despairing conversation about The State of the World. And recently things have taken a turn for the worse. His marriage is on the rocks, his teenage son is becoming increasingly unknowable, and his sense of hopeless impotence has reached a stage of spiritual crisis that’s no longer a matter of vapid dinner-party conversation.

So he decamps to his home office to work on his fifteenth screenplay, this time about a federal agent and a nameless assassin. The assassin is a sniper who targets the power elite: corporate chiefs who defraud their employees of billions of dollars in pensions, and political flacks who’ve rigged the system in their own favor. Only the federal agent isn’t sure he wants to capture the sniper.

Soon Bloom realizes that his screenplay hits too close to home: He really does want these people dead, so much so that this revenge fantasy takes over his life, sending him in search of salvation in an outrageous mentor, a possibly dangerous foreign country, and, finally, his very own backyard.

Seemed like appropriate reading material in these election obsessed days.

So how would I answer the above question having read the book?  Hmm, that is a tough one to call.  Bloom’s ideas, opinions, and feelings about the state of the world are, from my perspective, overly pessimistic and yet incredibly naive while tinged with a level of unhealthy obsession and narrow mindedness – just like BDS in the real world. And the screenplay at some point becomes almost moot except as an initial plot device.

Nevertheless, Hasak-Lowy uses this concept – a movie about killing off powerful bad guys that treats this violence as a potentially good thing – as an effective hook to pull the reader in.  The first third of the book is interesting no matter your political philosophy.  But this promising story line and Hasak-Lowy’s at times skillful writing never quite overcome the mess that is the middle of the book.

More below. Continue reading

In the Mail: politics

–> Black Belt Patriotism: How to Reawaken America by Chuck Norris

Description

Martial arts master, actor, and political activist–there is no job Chuck Norris can’t do. Now the original tough guy is at it again, stepping back into the role of bestselling author with his new book, Black Belt Patriotism. In Black Belt Patriotism Norris gives a no-holds-barred assessment of American culture, tackling everything from family values to national security. More than a cultural critique of what’s wrong with our nation, Black Belt Patriotism provides real solutions for solving our problems, moving our country forward, and changing our nation’s course for the better. Chuck Norris–the hero, icon, and legend–is back, packing a political and cultural punch, as only he can deliver.

–> Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less: A Handbook for Slashing Gas Prices and Solving Our Energy Crisis by Newt Gingrich, Vince Haley

Description

New York Times bestselling author, former Speaker of the House, and Fox News political analyst Newt Gingrich has a plan for slashing gas prices and reducing our long-term dependence on foreign oil.

Gingrich is famous for taking big, visionary ideas and boiling them down into practical solutions as demonstrated in this year’s earlier release, Real Change, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for eleven weeks. His new book Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less does just that. Dealing not only with spiraling gas prices, but with the energy crisis as a whole, Gingrich shows how we can safely reap the benefits of America’s own natural resources and technology in gas, oil, coal, wind, solar, biofuels and nuclear energy.

Gingrich argues that the pinch Americans are feeling at the pump is not a blip in the economy but a looming crisis–affecting not only the price of gas, but the price of food, the strength of our economy, and our national security.

To meet this crisis, Gingrich lays out a national strategy that will tap America’s scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs, and require Congress to unlock our oil reserves and remove all the impediments and disincentives that unnecessary government regulation has put in the way of American energy independence. The energy crisis is solvable, as Newt Gingrich’s plan makes clear. His handbook, Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less is sure to become the talk of the presidential campaign season.