Grady's Reviews > Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed

Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed by Jacob Wren
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Jan 15, 2011

it was amazing

'The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are not necessarily true.'

Jacob Wren writes and thinks and expresses and challenges so well that he is an artist that simply cannot be ignored. REVENGE FANTASIES OF THE POLITICALLY DISPOSSESSED is a novel, a well-crafted story with indelible characters that draw the reader into the story with the power of magnets, but it is so very much more. This book is a compelling examination of the empire of capitalism and the possible direction of the future unless we act to alter the terrifying pathway. Wren has elements of writers as disparate as Kafka, Sartre, WG Sebald, José Saramago, Julio Cortáza, Rainer Maria Rilke - and yet he has found his own voice in the midst of all of this brain-plucking comparison. At some points this story is terrifying, at some points erotically charged, at some points brimming over with intrigue, and at other points simply gorgeous writing style. Example: 'There is a kind of truth to gossip. Even when the factual information involved is completely fictitious, the nature of the details gossip chooses to focus upon often reveals what we are interested in, the news we really want to hear.'

The springboard of this novel is a group of people who attend meetings at some point in time/future to discuss the state of the capitalist world, people who seem to lean to the far left but whose attention is based on talk and not on action: action would mean activism and resistance to status quo of this spent element of capitalistic thought and such response carries the threat of treason as judged by the military which in turn could lead to imprisonment/torture/death. Among these talkers are three characters whom the book follows: The Doctor in his twenties who has a passionate affair with The Writer (a woman who has published a successful book but is in writer's block), and a man called The Third Wheel whose purpose seems to be to derail the relationship between The Doctor and The Writer. The three disperse - The Doctor is in Columbia treating the war torn victims while at the same time engineering and starring in a television reality show that pairs Team Hydrogen (capitalists who drive the production of hydrogen cars) and Team Columbia ( a political activist group) 'Disillusionment is always the worst part, the final insult to the injury of the world's ideological callousness';The Third Wheel who after seducing The Writer ends up in a Latin American country forging a personality as an artist and coping with the guilt of his romantic disruption; The Writer ends up teaching and trying to complete a second novel and gains her information by a life of sleeping with her students '...non-monogamy seems to comply too well, fit too neatly, with the requirements of late capitalism. The imagery suggested by the term evokes a free market in which sexual partners come and go like so many obsolete commodities. It can be argued that the open possibility of many partners creates a competitive economy, a marketplace within which the intimacy of direct physical contact is downgraded, replaced with a series of encounters that, because they are numerous, are at the same time implicitly less important, more superficial.' and she is jailed while she completes her novel.

At some point, after the diaspora of these three characters and the adventures that shape their lives, the three meet again - changed, older, different - and the meetings go on signifying the desperate need for activism shrouded in a copse of nihilistic powerlessness. Even in the Epilogue Jacob Wren disturbs the thinking reader into careful examination of human behavior in a struggle toward creating a world that not only makes sense but is better for that change in direction. This is a compelling book, one that demands much from the reader, but at the same time is so extraordinarily entertaining in its sophisticated manner of writing that once started it becomes glued to the eyes and mind, not releasing until the last page is finished.

Grady Harp
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