From the author of the internationally acclaimed 'Torture the Artist', a fiercely funny novel about red-state politics, family traditions, and a common man who decides to fight back. Somewhere in the middle of America dwells Blue Gene Mapother, a mullet-headed patriot who staunchly supports the American war effort without question. Besides his patriotism, little enlivens him except for pro wrestling, cigarettes, and any instance in which he thinks his masculinity is at stake. And though you wouldn’t know it, Blue Gene hails from one of the wealthiest families in the country. His mother, a fanatical Christian socialite, has a dream in which she sees Blue Gene’s older brother, the handsome but anxious John Hustbourne Mapother, becoming an apocalyptic world savior. Eager to fulfill his mother’s prophecy, John runs for Congress but finds that as a corporate executive, he’s not very popular with his largely working-class constituents. And so, after years of estrangement, the Mapothers reach out to Blue Gene, realizing that they need his common-man touch in order to cast their family name in a more favorable light with voters. With absurd humor and poignant wit, this timely, small-town epic takes us from flea markets to mansions to abandoned Wal-Mart buildings, all the while examining the bizarre relationship between the 'high' and 'low' classes of America.
|Publisher:||MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||509 KB|
About the Author
About the Author: Joey Goebel lives and teaches creative writing in Henderson, Kentucky. He is the author of the novels 'The Anomalies' and 'Torture the Artist', both of which have been published in nine languages.
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Commonwealth based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)So as if the Bush administration didn't cause enough damage when they were actually in power, the lit world is seeing a growing problem even in these Obama days that was still ultimately caused by them -- namely, the proliferation these days of sh-tty f-cking obvious political novels about the Bush administration. Take for example Joey Goebel's Commonwealth, whose badness is especially inexplicable given that it was personally recommended to me by a friend whose opinion I usually admire (who in fact physically tracked down a copy of the book and gave it to me, just to guarantee that I'd read it), a book which has received nothing but five-star ratings so far at Amazon; much like Augusten Burroughs' Running With Scissors, I kept having to stop while reading this and checking the front cover, wondering constantly whether I was reading the same book these other people had.See, it's the story of one "Blue" Gene Mapother, about the most ludicrously cartoonish stereotype of an uneducated hillbilly you'll find in contemporary fiction; the exact kind of mullet-sporting, flea-market-vending, NASCAR-watching illiterate brownshirt thug who put Bush and his cronies into power both in 2000 and again in '04. But see, he also happens to be the son of the twelfth richest man in the US, the scion of a tobacco empire who owns most of the backwards small town where all these characters live. Pop's own political dreams were squashed when younger, after discovering that his grating personality will always keep him from getting elected; and that's why he's been grooming Gene's meek brother John since childhood for an eventual political career instead, almost ruined when he became a drug addict in his twenties, eventually saved by his sex-hating Evangelical wife, who in classic puppetmaster style has seized the social-issue agenda of John's first-ever Congressional campaign, taking place over the course of this novel. Only one problem, though, which is that John's blue-blood elitism doesn't play well with the mouth-breathers actually responsible for voting him in; and thus is black-sheep Gene called back into the family fold, promised whatever he wants in return for delivering the "Bubba Vote."Holy sh-t, ladies and gentlemen, can you even count the number of lazy stereotypes concerning paleocon America just mentioned in that last paragraph? Oh, but it just keeps getting worse, believe it or not, much worse; turns out that Gene ends up meeting and dating an alt-rock lefty hottie, who convinces him to convert the old flea-market space (in reality an abandoned Wal-Mart -- insert eyeroll here) into a Progressive community center (the "Commonwealth" of the book's title), providing things like free healthcare to the town's citizens using the newfound political pull of his ideologically hijacked family. And that's when things start getting truly ridiculous, which is why I'll stop my plot recap at this point.Now, all of this is bad enough, of course; but now combine it with a whole series of logic holes found throughout this manuscript, just glaring omissions sometimes in common sense that will make most intelligent readers shake their heads in frustration. Like, it's obvious that Gene takes his redneckiness seriously, and that he's supposed to legitimately believe in the flag-shirt-wearing jingoism on display; but it's also a fact that he was raised his entire childhood in the same elitist blue-blood mansion environment that his brother John was, being forced to wear prep clothes and sport a tasteful haircut all the way until the age of eighteen, and with him only in his mid-twenties now. So you're telling me that this guy then ends up artificially affecting all of these hillbilly accrouchements by choice, every single one of t