A former employee of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Peter Michael Ketcham, who worked at NIST from 1997 until 2011, wrote this letter (below) to the editor of Europhysics News last week. NIST is the government agency tasked with investigating how the Twin Towers collapsed. Ketcham is calling NIST out for its failure to, well, investigate. I use the NIST report in Locus Amoenus, where I say it is, “nothing but fermented blend of preconception and irrelevance.” My hero Hamlet (whose father died on 9/11 and whose new stepfather worked for NIST) is furious when he discovers this, furious with himself, his stepfather and his mother, with everybody for being so easily hoodwinked. Here is Ketcham’s reaction: Continue reading
Next month, I will be talking to a group of anti-war activists about the role of literary fiction in undermining the bad narratives that prevent critical thinking. I look to my favorite political satirist, Mark Twain, as an example.
When Huck Finn ponders whether or not he should turn in his friend Jim, a runaway slave, he is deeply conflicted. Good Christian society of the day has taught him that slavery is sanctioned by God. Huck truly believes that to help Jim escape would be immoral. But he decides, “All right then, I’ll go to hell.”
It’s moments like this in literature that serve humankind best in its often-halting progress toward tolerance and peace. Throughout history, good, decent people routinely condone revenge, segregation, greed, fascism and war, simply because they follow those they admire most. Every era has its own peculiar blindness, and going against complacency and conformity can be more difficult than directly confronting tyrants themselves. It is often a disenfranchised voice, such as Huck’s, that awakens the literature of a nation, makes it more self-critical. Sometimes the voice needs an author—a humorist, a poet, or a good story-teller—to help him speak in a way that he can’t be ignored or further ostracized. Continue reading
Reviewers are calling Locus Amoenus, “one of the funniest political satires of our time,” the 2015 novel that “everyone needs to read,” and ” a great book you will want to share with your friends.”
Victoria N. Alexander will be signing copies of Locus Amoenus at Brave New Books in Austin on Nov 27th, Black Friday, 7PM.
Brave New Books is “an amazing community of diverse and active people. We have politicos and anarchists, lefties and conservatives, but most importantly we are a bunch of curious people on a quest for the truth.”
1904 Guadalupe Street Suite B Austin, Texas 78705
512-480-2503 12-9pm Daily
Locus Amoenus synopsis: In this dark comedy, a 9/11 widow and her son, Hamlet, have retreated from Brooklyn to the idyllic rural countryside upstate, where for nearly eight years they have run a sustainable farm. Unfortunately their outrageously obese neighbors, who prefer the starchy products of industrial agriculture, shun their elitist ways (recycling, eating healthy, reading). Hamlet, who is now 18, is beginning to suspect that something is rotten in the United States of America, when health, happiness and freedom are traded for cheap Walmart goods, Paxil, endless war, standard curriculum, and environmental degradation. He becomes very depressed when, on the very day of the 8th anniversary of his father’s death, his mother marries a horrid, boring bureaucrat named Claudius. Things get even more depressing for Hamlet when his friend Horatio, a conspiracy theorist, claims Claudius is a fraud. The deceptions, spying, corruption, will ultimately lead, as in Shakespeare’s play, to tragedy. Continue reading
Today. Listen live Monday morning 9:00-10:30 AM ET. WGDR 91.3FM in Vermont. Jim Hogue will interview Victoria N. Alexander about her new post 9/11 political satire novel, Locus Amoenus. Hogue’s program is called the House at Pooh Corner. Go to http://www.wgdr.org
In Locus Amoenus, a 9/11 widow remarries and her son, Hamlet, learns from Horatio, a conspiracy theorist, that something is rotten in the United States of America.
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