Monday, May 16, 2016

We the Peeps - a political satire by Morgan Hunt

Greetings, commies!
In light of the recent political upheavals, I am delighted to review a novel by Morgan Hunt We the Peeps: a Political Caper and Wish Fulfillment

When seven ordinary citizens are unreasonably detained by the TSA, they bond over their upset with the government and decide to launch a second American Revolution. Instead of horses and artillery, they rely on media distractions, scams, and hacking. They take on green energy, deregulation, Citizens United and other issues with whimsical yet hopeful results. We the Peeps is a fun read for all who are interested in politics, civics, democracy and the American experience.

My thoughts:
Writing an effective political satire takes the right balance of factual awareness, sense of humor, contempt for humanity and healthy detachment. If the author is too passionate about a particular political movement, the work of fiction turns into a manifesto or a piece of propaganda. Fortunately, Morgan Hunt, the author of We the Peeps dodges that bullet. Intuition tells me that in her daily life she is leaning towards the left (don't ask me how I know it), she has no qualms about ridiculing the extremism of the phenomenon known as Social Justice Warriors.

If you you take wicked pleasure in trivializing and lampooning "human suffering" (aka First World Problems), this is the book for you! The novel features an ensemble cast of misfits from various walks of life, brought together by fate and united in a cause. Lovers of Sartre will instantly think of the set up of No Exit, where you have incompatible individuals trapped within one hell circle.

Like any good satirist, Hunt employs word play. The president's name is Peabody. (Peabrain is more like it!) A sensitive, ineffectual, sentimental, ethnically confused, borderline metrosexual, p-whipped (there comes the letter P again), by his philanthropic ex-fiancee Demetra, who rejects traditional family in favor of providing medical care to third world orphans.

The author resurrects many common questions that are on everyone's mind but cannot be raised in politically correct society. Does having an Algonquin great-grandmother allow you to claim Native American roots? Does a privileged Indian career woman have a right to speak on behalf of "women of color"? Can a man continue to serve as a Methodist minister even if he comes out of the closet? People massage their heritage and history to their advantage. The cover features a cute yellow baby chick, implying that in the world of social media, even puny, squeaky voices can make a lot of impact.

My only concern is that this clever book has a shelf life - like all political satires. The novel takes place in a near future, 20XX. The author makes references to political figures that are still alive and in power, like Putin. Some thinly-veiled political runners make cameo appearances, like a certain billionaire named Hrump (gee, I wonder who that is ...) Ten years from now these people could be ancient history. But that's the risk that all writers of political satire take. Their work is biting and catchy and relevant while the figures are alive and in the spotlight. The "good" news is that the problems outlined in the book are not likely to go away any time soon. Terrorism, school shootings, energy crisis are here to stay. Regardless of where you stand on the political scale, you will find We the Peeps poignant and witty.

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