Overview

The news media can’t help but leave out a certain personal element from every story. Reading fiction gives us the freedom to envision unlikely connections between characters, overhear conversations in bedrooms and on neighborhood streets, focus in on a child’s thoughts, and linger in unfamiliar places. Politically Inspired is a collection of thirty original short stories, cartoons, and illustrations that illuminate many of the political events and questions of our time. Each of these inventive fictional worlds ...
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Politically Inspired

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Overview

The news media can’t help but leave out a certain personal element from every story. Reading fiction gives us the freedom to envision unlikely connections between characters, overhear conversations in bedrooms and on neighborhood streets, focus in on a child’s thoughts, and linger in unfamiliar places. Politically Inspired is a collection of thirty original short stories, cartoons, and illustrations that illuminate many of the political events and questions of our time. Each of these inventive fictional worlds offers a new perspective on today’s politics of fear, desire, and destruction. We see the President of the United States wake up as a fifth-grader in Minneapolis, peek into a classroom where young boys wear burqas, and read an endearingly eccentric letter to a girlfriend lost on a hijacked plane. Both highly imaginative and deeply relevant, 'Politically Inspired' reveals the myriad ways in which politics shapes our everyday lives.“September 11, the War on Terror, the invasion of Iraq... Why not explore our new reality through fiction, the truest gauge of the national psyche? That was Elliott’s bright idea. And the result? A deeply impressive collection of 26 previously unpublished stories... A superb collection, without a single dud. Grab it.”— Kirkus Reviews (starred)
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Triggered by the post-9/11 changes in the political landscape, this erratic collection of 29 short stories offers new fiction from the likes of Charles Baxter, Anne Ursu, Mark Lee and a host of lesser-known authors from around the world. Edited by writer Stephen Elliott, the anthology begins with Ursu's playfully sardonic "The President's New Clothes." President Bush finds himself trapped in the body of a young Minnesota schoolboy who, despite Dubya's best efforts, can't get anyone to believe that the leader of the free world in Washington, D.C., literally has the mind of a child. Baxter's contribution, "Innocent," is a short dialogue about a man who, in fear of the horror and messiness of "getting involved," flees the scene of a deadly highway accident he has just witnessed-a metaphor for America's attitude toward international conflict and cooperation. Lee's "Memo to Our Journalists" is a short, punchy list of editorial precautions to reporters in Iraq. It includes such pithy advice as "If you and your embedded unit are lost in the countryside and searching for the main road, remember that every adult in the world lies about most things much of the time. Look for a smart, honest nine-year-old." While many of the stories explore such worthwhile topics as the so-called "human shields" in Iraq, efforts to horde Cipro during the anthrax scare and post-apocalyptic sex after 9/11, some of the writing is painfully amateurish. The abundance of inexperienced authors on the roster causes some intriguing conceits to get lost in the shuffle; as an exercise in subversive fiction, this is an interesting if spotty experiment. (Oct.) FYI: A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book will go to Oxfam America's humanitarian response in Iraq. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
September 11, the War on Terror, the invasion of Iraq . . . . Why not explore our new reality through fiction, the truest gauge of the national psyche? That was Elliott’s bright idea. And the result? A deeply impressive collection of 26 previously unpublished stories. Novelist Elliott (What It Means to Love You, 2002, etc.) has chosen a dynamite opener: "The President’s New Clothes," by Anne Ursu. Using the familiar gimmick of the body-switch, Ursu has Dubya waking up in the body of a Minnesotan kid. What follows is sunny, upbeat and lethal, the perfect fable for an empty-suit presidency. Four stories focus on 9/11 and its immediate aftermath; not surprisingly, the surreal version ("Mr. Mxyzptlk’s Opus," by Ben Greenman) is as effective as realistic treatments like the "End-of-the-World Sex," by Tsaurah Litzhy, which highlights the correlation of sex and death. Two fine stories examine the effect of politics and terrorism on personal relationships. In Alicia Erian’s "The Winning Side," husband and wife protest together the detention of immigrants, yet perversely their marriage drifts further onto the rocks, while in "Should I Be Scared?" by Amanda Eyre Ward, the anthrax scare opens up a rift in another marriage. Six authors take on the Persian Gulf wars. In "Freedom Oil," Anthony Swofford has an oilman put together a showbiz sendoff for our boys at San Diego airport. Two marines fresh out of boot camp are sucked into a swirl of sex, liquor, and phony patriotism. The flip side is the story that cannot be told too often, seldom better done than here: the homecoming of the soldier who is still living with the horror ("The Designated Marksman," Otis Haschemeyer). Two other gems must bementioned: the wickedly on-target notes of sessions with public figures by a real-life dominatrix ("All in a Day’s Work," by Mistress Morgana), and a small masterpiece of absurdist logic by the Palestinian Nasri Hajjaj, about a man who slaughters his family and is promptly honored by his nation’s leader ("I Believe I’m in Love With the Government"). A superb collection, without a single dud. Grab it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596928893
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/22/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 981 KB

Meet the Author

About the Author: Stephen Elliott grew up a ward of the court in various institutions and group homes in Chicago. He earned his Bachelors degree at the University of Illinois and a Masters degree from Northwestern University. He has worked as a stripper, a cabdriver, a bartender, and a law school admissions consultant.
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Table of Contents

i The politics of children
The President's New Glothes 9
Da Bomb 29
Where Eric Fell 41
Proper Dress 49
Balancing Genius 53
Jumping Jacks 57
ii The politics of culture
Innocent 61
9/11 L. A. Bookstore 67
Dade County, November 2000 81
Mr. Mxyzptlk's Opus 93
The Winning Side 101
iii The politics of fear
The K Chronicles 110
Should I Be Scared 111
The Patriot Actor 119
The Great Rushdie 125
Duct Soup 129
iv The politics of desire
End-of-the-World Sex 135
All in a Day's Work 143
The One You Meet Everywhere 149
Eight Hundred Pages 159
v The politics of destruction
I Believe I'm in Love with the Government 169
Memo to Our Journalists 173
The Shield 177
The Vampires of Draconian Hill 185
I am a CBU-87/B Combined Effects Munition (GEM) 199
vi The politics of war
Lamentation over the Destruction of Ur 207
Freedom Oil 225
The Smell of Despair 237
The Designated Marksman 249
Contributors 265
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