A young man with an abusive childhood discovers he’s the son of Satan and becomes a prince of hell.
In tiny Riverton, Minn., George Carlson grows up in a large, chaotic family where he bears the brunt of his mother’s and half brother’s cruelty. Forced to defend himself at an early age, he becomes skilled at fighting, escaping and surviving in the surrounding wilderness. At 18 and on the brink of joining the Army, George is framed for murder by Rick, his half brother, and finds himself in hell. There, he discovers he’s the son of Satan and that it’s time for him to fulfill his destiny: Become a devil and rule the underworld. No quick summary can capture this book’s strangeness: an odd assortment of childhood abuse, small-town memories and (in the second half) fantasy horror/humor. Whether it’s camping trips and toboggan rides, a battle in hell or fratricide, Anderson recounts it all in a remote, deadpan that varies only when verging into black humor. Riverton is a demented Lake Wobegon where local characters include Smiling Jack, “mute, glassy-eyed and with a Joker-like grimace from a WWI gas attack,” who likes “to get drunk on banana extract” and the Watsons, “Riverton’s hillbillies”; when a new fridge gets wedged in the doorway, “they kicked a hole through the wall and walked around it.” Anderson is not a polished writer. His anecdotes, for example, aren’t always tied together, but he has a gift for description, particularly authentic details of life and work in the Minnesota north woods. Nevertheless, the many descriptions of base ignorance and cruelty make much of this book unpleasant to read—and that’s before we get to hell. That section (often rather funny and comprising half the book) is interesting less for the events it describes than for how it turns a dark mirror on George’s childhood. Perhaps hell is identifying with your abusers. The ending provides the tiniest glimpse of a life that might be different for George, as does the book’s closely guarded sense of compassion.
Like an unholy union between Garrison Keillor and Stephen King, this book mixes small-town Americana with horror in ways that can be odd, off-putting and sometimes compelling.
A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.
In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.
A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.