Emery’s debut novel describes one man’s resistance toward the American government.
Unlikely revolutionary Rex Freeman grows up just like any other God-fearing, freedom-loving American: playing football, driving fast, and cheerfully challenging the status quo. Emory’s vision of this innocent America is evident in his description of Rex’s hometown, La Crescent, Minnesota: “This was a place where people worked hard to earn an honest living. They lived in decent homes, people raised their families, went to church….This is where life has its rewards. You put in a good work week and spent the weekend in the splendour in ‘God’s Country.’ Their lives were simple, of modest means and glorious.” After an unsatisfying career in corporate America, Freeman falls in with the Liberty Foundation, where he meets people victimized by the IRS. With his new friends, Freeman founds the American Law Club to keep citizens informed on ways to protect themselves against encroaching federal power. Digging ever deeper into America’s treasury of conspiracy theories, Freeman finds new ways to resist the government and spread his messages of liberty, poking at the sleeping federal giant and eventually incurring its wrath. Amid a cast of fringe revolutionaries of various stripes, Rex finds himself on the wrong side of the law and in danger of losing that which he holds dearest of all: his freedom. Emery claims several times that the novel is “based on actual experiences and events,” and the book certainly reads more like a memoir than a work of fiction, often with a tinge of self-mythologizing: “As Rex began to get a reputation in his local area he had the great pleasure of meeting another very prominent gladiator battling I.R.S. oppression.” The prose is riddled with tense shifts, unexpected British spellings, and a gross overuse of scare quotes employed with little sense of uniformity. As a narrative, the story oscillates between flat characterization and an aggressively simplistic worldview on one hand, and dry accounts of legal disputes and the tax system on the other. While Emery offers a few valid criticisms of America’s federal system, they are crowded in among so many instances of religiosity and paranoia as to render them nearly moot.
Unpersuasive political fiction.