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.