Gallery of art and thoughts

The cartoons and contemplations of a twentysomething copy editor.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month, and prospective novel writers have a chance to write 50,000 words (175 pages) of prose by Nov. 30. To those who accept this challenge, my congratulations. Good luck; you will need it.

Speaking of novels, my friend Alfonso Mangione is selling his on "Pottersville" is an intriguing look at the Chicago of a few years ago, after the dot-com crash and 9/11. Through the eyes of narrator Marcus Compton, a twentysomething ex-Navy man, we learn about religion, relationships, and romance at the commencement-de-siecle.

Each of Marcus' friends, lovers and acquaintances adds a different layer to his life: drunken, debauched Neil embodies the spirit of "hooking-up" previously chronicled by Tom Wolfe; sober, sincere Mike manifests the Midwest and its red-state resistance to Neil's excesses; Captain Ron, head of the startup for which Marcus works, represents American business through his deadly combination of authoritarianism and ineptitude; and endearing, offbeat Allison shows us a hope for salvation, however imperfect.

The impact of 9/11 and the subsequent economic recession, affecting companies from Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, and HealthSouth, created a sense of helplessness in the United States. Marcus' attempts to patch up deteriorating conditions in his work and social lives reflects this helplessness. His journey toward resolving these issues makes the book a worthwhile read and an impressive debut.

Want to read some interesting articles? Steven Holmes, in The Nation, dissects two books on the Iraq war and liberals' reaction to it. And Christine Rosen, in Policy Review, continues the conservative assault on the therapy culture. Conservatives and liberals both want to re-make the world in their image, but the difference is that liberals are content with hoping that it happens, while conservatives actually want to make it happen. Let's hope they don't succeed...


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