Republicans used to be the party of the country clubs while the Democrats were the party of the working people. This all changed years ago but many people still haven’t noticed. Jennifer Egan, for example, hilariously hasn’t realized that country club snobs now vote for Elizabeth Warren and buy “The Anti-racist Baby” for their $10,000 coffee tables. (I have seen such a table with my own eyes, so this isn’t a metaphor of any kind but literal fact).
This is the reason why Democrats are so pushy with the “anti-racist” stuff. The only working people who still vote for them are black. And the only way to hold on to them is to keep telling them that Republicans are desperate to bring back slavery.
Both the postmodernist Jennifer Egan and the neo-realist Markley are way to the left of the political spectrum. I’m guessing Egan voted for Elizabeth Warren but settled for Biden once he chose Kamala Harris as the running mate. And Markley sounds like one of those “Bernie Sanders is too conservative” types. I have no idea how they really voted and I don’t care. What I’m saying is this is where I’d peg them on the political spectrum if I had to guess.
Markley is clearly anti-neoliberal. Egan is pro (meaning, she likes it). This confirms the hypothesis that anti-neoliberal literature is never postmodern.
Both writers seem to believe (and rather aggressively, too) that the open-border citizen-of-the-world free-love fluid-identities ideology is superior to the stable-identity church-and-family nation-state one. At the same time, their fluid, drug-guzzling, free-loving characters are all miserable, cruel, and horrid. Only those who get married, stay clean, have children, and are attached to the place where they live resemble human beings.
Both writers’ are at their wokest when they get on the subjects of climate and race. Their anti-racist efforts are so tortured that I feel vicariously embarrassed when I read these scenes in both novels. Anti-racism is 100% a product of white people who feel extremely uncomfortable around those they consider to be non-white.
Great novels, though. Art resists ideological indoctrination. The authors can believe whatever crap they want but their books speak for themselves and what they say is very anti-woke.
I’ve been wishing for a novel in English that would speak about economic dispossession, the opioid epidemic, the effects of the deindustrialization, the economic crash of 2008, the Iraq war, and the costs of neoliberalism. And now I have finally found it in Stephen Markley’s Ohio.
It’s an excellent novel, beautifully written. The writer is ultra woke but that doesn’t matter because, as always happens with talented books, the text becomes bigger and stronger than the author’s beliefs. The woke characters in the novel are self-involved miserable bastards. The only character who is an honorable person worthy of respect is a church-going Republican. And the only solution to the devastation wrought by neoliberalism is family, kindness, and loyalty to friends. No ideological difference matters more than the past you share with people, says the novel. This goes directly to what I said yesterday: we are fed ideology to distract us from being robbed.
There’s a lot of depravity portrayed in the book. This is very hardcore reading, so if you have a low tolerance for gore, I don’t recommend. I loved the novel even though it’s depiction of reality is way too grim and hopeless for me. Finally, somebody is writing about things that matter.
I also need to mention that I’m impressed by the way Markley writes about the war in Iraq. The woke character who regales everybody with passionate diatribes about how the US deserved 9/11 and should be punished for its colonialism is a smug, stupid idjit whose careless condescension makes him complicit in a murder of a small child. It’s also really funny how this leftist bastard from early two-thousands says identical stuff to today’s seemingly rightist preachers of “the West is fighting against Russia in Ukraine.” The two characters in the novel who do enlist to fight in Iraq are the smartest, the most decent and the most human people in the novel. I have no idea what the author was hoping to say but to me it’s clear that the novel’s ultimate message is that wokeness is a dead end.