The Terrible Threes

Overview

With offbeat humor and on-target social criticism, Ishmael Reed presents in The Terrible Threes a vision of America in the not-too-distant future, a portrait of a fairy tale gone awry. Opening on Thanksgiving Day in the late 1990s ? three years after the former fashion-model president was laughed out of office for admitting that Saint Nicholas knew more about the workings of the executive branch than he did ? the White House is implicated in a plot to rid America of its surplus ...

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Overview

With offbeat humor and on-target social criticism, Ishmael Reed presents in The Terrible Threes a vision of America in the not-too-distant future, a portrait of a fairy tale gone awry. Opening on Thanksgiving Day in the late 1990s — three years after the former fashion-model president was laughed out of office for admitting that Saint Nicholas knew more about the workings of the executive branch than he did — the White House is implicated in a plot to rid America of its surplus people and the Third World of its nuclear weapons.

Dalkey Archive Press

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Editorial Reviews

Gerald Early
Like all great American comic spirits from Louis Armstrong to Curly Howard of the Three Stooges, from Richard Pryor to Zora Neale Hurston, Reed relentlessly deciphers his culture, subverts it really.
Gerald Early, New York Times, 5/7/89
Nation
The brightest contributor to American satire since Mark Twain.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Reed's jazzlike, surreal phantasmagoria is set in the late 1990s, in an America where millions of surps (homeless people) forage for food, while U.S. President Jesse Hatch is a figurehead manipulated by televangelist Rev. Clement Jones, his spiritual adviser. The former president, ex-fashion model Dean Clift (star of The Terrible Twos , this novel's predecessor) has been removed from office but will soon stage a comeback. Among the convoluted subplots, two drive the action: White House communications chief Robert Krantz's ``lone cowboy'' scheme to drop neutron bombs on New York and Miami, then place the blame on Nigeria; and billionaire toymaker Elder Marse's plan to exploit the charisma of dwarfish Rastafarian Black Peter. Reed's uproarious, wisecracking, deadly serious farce swings between the inspired and the heavy-handed, but when he is on target, which is much of the time, he is one of the sharpest socio-political satirists around, hurling pointed barbs at racism, the CIA, women, the Vatican, the New York literary crowd and Americans' demand for instant gratification. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Reed's eighth novel seems aimed at a select audience filled with unfocused anger. Dystopian in theme, it is set in the late 1990s, and what passes for narration apparently involves Santa Claus's taking over America and punishing assorted villains. The plot, however, exists only to allow Reed to attack his favorite pet peeves and, as an added attraction, sophomorically to hit out at famous folk, regardless of creed or color. Nasty little references abound, with American women the favored target: ``always kvetching and talking about being unhappy, without knowing what they are talking about.'' Though a few satirical jabs hit home, this mean-spirited, hapless little novel strains to be humorous, but alas only adds up to a flat, mildly disturbing embarrassment.-- Charles Shapiro, York Coll., CUNY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564782243
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/1999
  • Pages: 180
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Ishmael Reed is the author of over twenty-five books—including Mumbo Jumbo, The Last Days of Louisiana Red, Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down and Juice!. He is also a publisher, television producer, songwriter, radio and television commentator, lecturer, and has long been devoted to exploring an alternative black aesthetic: the trickster tradition, or “Neo-Hoodooism” as he calls it. Founder of the Before Columbus Foundation, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley for over thirty years, retiring in 2005. In 2003, he received the coveted Otto Award for political theater.

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