Home | Reviews | Blog | Daily | Glossary | Orrin's Stuff | Email

Ephemera ()

Back in the day....when we mostly just did book reviews...before 9-11...before we blogged...Mr. Anderson was a publicist with FSB Associates and his responsibilities--as near as we could figure out--included handling the rightwing whacko fringe of reviewers, including the BrothersJudd and our friend Steve Martinovich, at Enter Stage Right. This did not require Mr. Anderson to share our conservative views, but I never found him less than hospitable and, on at least one occasion--our somewhat harsh review of Susan Sontag's ill-timed Where the Stress Falls--he did express more than a little sympathy. At any rate, we've stayed in contact; I saw early drafts of this manuscript and offered feedback; and I'll not pretend to impartiality in reviewing the finished product.

The anti-hero of Mr. Anderson's dystopian first novel is Nestor Cab, a late-thirties writer at the Reviewer's Review magazine, where he writes savage takedowns of film and book reviewers, rather than of the material they review themselves. [No, you don't need to point out to me that this much of the character could be self-portrait, with Mr. Anderson penning notes to himself about his charges. :)] He's thoroughly disaffected from the society he lives in, one driven as much by the advertising for consumer goods as by the consumption itself. But then a note appears in his office one day and he sets off to find a missing soldier, a quest that will take him from conspiracy theorists to the heart of the quite real conspiracy lurking behind the facade of government in Washington DC.

The novel is very dark and verges right on the edge of cynicism, but Mr. Anderson's humor always pulls it back into the more enjoyable realm of satire. He's clearly immersed himself in the ludicrously wide range of paranoiac conspiracy theories on offer these days and the book has fun at their expense. But, not only does he put a genuinely evil eminence grise behind the scenes in Washington, he also makes the members of the Neo-Luddite Army into some of the heroes of the tale, Cab's NLA guide and watcher, Tex, in particular. What really pulled the whole thing together for me though was the conclusion, which manages to puck in action and ideas in equally thrilling measure. When the motives and visions of the conspiracy are exposed they turn out not to be shadowy or clandestine after all, but very much in line with the views of much of the Western secular elite---imagine Paul Ehrlich with the power of J. Edgar Hoover and you can begin to imagine where the story is headed.

For me, that ultimate payoff was enough to overcome any minor quibbles about plotting, characterization, and verbosity. Could the book use some tightening? Sure. But is the destination worth the journey? Absolutely. A fine first novel, rich in political ideas, leavened with dark humor.


Grade: (B+)


See also:

Jeffery Anderson Links:

    -AUTHOR SITE: Ephemera
    -ESSAY: The Dystopian Virtue (Jeffery M. Anderson, The Cerebral Writer)
    -ESSAY: Adorable Agents of Sedition (Jeffery M. Anderson, Candace's Book Blog)
    -REVIEW: of Ephemera by Jeffery M. Anderson (Steve Martinovich, Enter Stage Right)
    -REVIEW: of Ephemera (Tim Gebhart, BlogCritics)
    -REVIEW: of Ephemera (Pat Turner Kavanaugh, Newark Star-Ledger)
    -REVIEW: of Ephemera (Prairie Progressive)
    -REVIEW: of Ephemera (Pretty Opinionated)
    -REVIEW: of Ephemera (Harriet Klausner)
    -REVIEW: of Ephemera (LINDA L. RICHARDS, January Magazine)
    -REVIEW: of Ephemera (SAlly Bennett, Book Blogs)
    -REVIEW: of Ephemera (Celtic Frog Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Ephemera (Autumn Blues Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Ephemera (The Bookshelf Review)

Book-related and General Links: