"American Dreams may be the most dangerous book ever written. It should be banned and its author locked up." Nelson Dunnefeller Jr
This is the story of a young man, Michael Hope, who leaves the Midwest to become a graduate student in California where he bonds with a photographer from New York and her small daughter. The mother, the book's hero, is on the run - literally for her life - from the agents of a famous tycoon. As the agents close in, the new threesome drives off into the interior of America seeking refuge. If this story with its suspense and diamond-sharp but sometimes lyrical prose were the sole attraction of this book, it would still be one of the best reads of the year.
But there is much more. It is also the story of two American dreams and the life and death struggle between them. And because today that struggle is so out in the open and in almost every evening's news and with its outcome so uncertain - Hope's book is dedicated to "Good Dream dreamers" - this "novel", perhaps more than any other, resonates with our time. This is especially true because of the way that American Dreams connects with youth and with the eternal story of youth trying to find its own way in a new world. It is set in the mid to late Sixties and mostly in Berkeley and San Francisco, the epicentre of the moral and cultural revolution that shook the world. Michael Hope embraced that revolution and today, mindful of recent events, he is dreaming of another. His book ends: "I dream that soon everywhere the good and the brave youth of today's world will rise up and that unlike that of my generation, your rising will be successful. I dream that the Ultrarichs will lose and that you will win."
But there is still another dimension to American Dreams that makes it a book likely to be much discussed and long remembered. It plays around - and very successfully - with the novel form. In addition to many quotes from Time magazine describing each week's happenings in Berkeley and San Francisco, happenings that sometimes Michael participates in, there are numerous digital links, some to Google Earth, some to TV news archives, some to recordings of San Francisco acid rock, and some about the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. Via the links and the quotes from Time, some characters, including one of the main ones, are identified as real-life people. So is American Dreams a novel or a true story? In an email to his publisher that appears in the Preface, Michael Hope says his book "doesn't qualify . . . as fiction. But perhaps you could label it as a new kind of fiction: fictionalized fiction." Okay, but what about Michael Hope himself? Is he real or fictitious? A Google search does not turn up any answers.
"American Dreams is the most American American novel ever written." Susan Ruccio