An undercover informant infiltrates an activist group that intends to nominate a pig for president at the Democratic National Convention in 1968 in this debut novel.
Corman Hodges served in Vietnam. As the result of some terrible misunderstanding never unambiguously described by the author, the veteran is compelled to work clandestinely for COINTELPRO, a “secret unit charged with snuffing the anti-war protests,” under the authority of the FBI. He insinuates himself into a band of Yippies—politically activist hippies—committed to nominating a pig for president during the tumultuous Democratic Convention in Chicago, a move the group believes will blanket the government in shame. The head of the Yippies is the infamous Abbie Hoffman, who puts the perennially agitated Sal in charge of the pig, dubbed “Pigasus” but frequently referred to as the president. Corman’s job is to play caretaker to the pig and to vigilantly watch Sal, of whom some in the group are suspicious. The feds are desperate to shut down Hoffman’s crew—they suspect that the Yippies plan to release LSD into Chicago’s water supply or maybe use the pig to hide an explosive device to perpetrate a terrorist attack, the possibilities described with delicious comic verve by Schneider. The feds command Corman to plant an envelope of heroin in the radicals’ headquarters, but he grows anxious that the bureau will eventually turn on him, too, and starts to plot his own escape. Everything goes awry, though, when the pig is captured by the cops and delivered to an animal-processing plant, from which Corman rescues him, a dangerous move. The author graphically reproduces the feral turbulence of the time and the shared cynicism of the two warring sides. Schneider displays a keen sensitivity to the politically surreal—Hoffman’s crowd really seems to believe its mischievous prank will topple the despotic powers that rule America. Further, Corman is the perfect middle ground between the two battling factions, a straight man to their humorous perversions and completely free of ideological baggage—he merely wants to extricate himself from the madness. The plot drags on at too great a length but remains a hilarious depiction of a strange time.
A wildly funny sendup of the politically chaotic 1960s.