A comic novel in which an unlikely pair foils a dastardly government plot.
Weil’s debut has an uproarious premise: The nefarious agribusiness giant AgriNu has decided to eradicate spinach from the world’s menu. In collaboration with a spinach-hating U.S. president, the company’s senior vice president of acquisitions of technological development, Edwin “Mr. Ed” Edwards (“[H]e had a big Rolodex and a cloudy moral compass”), conspires to eliminate spinach crops worldwide and poison the vegetable’s reputation with the public. “The only ones who might miss it were a couple of Italians and Popeye,” Weil writes. This would pave the way for alternate products controlled by AgriNu. Two unlikely heroes come together to thwart this dastardly plot: Donny, a big, tough, kindhearted guy from Queens, N.Y., and Ursula, a travel agent, belly dancer and ardent vegetarian. They encounter each other by chance (“She was a woman he’d met at a party a few nights ago and wanted to go out with because he liked saying her name. ‘Ursula’ ”), and together, they form the core of a ragtag group of eccentric characters who resist Mr. Ed and fight the good fight. “Americans eat 20 million burgers a day,” Ursula says. “Between clear cutting the forests to create pastures, and the industrial farms that grow the lettuce and tomatoes...if we all just stopped, we might save our planet in time.” AgriNu fervently believes in Henry Kissinger’s saying, “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people,” and when the company senses opposition, its government allies crack down hard on ordinary civilians, who become outlaws as they fight to change the world. Weil’s narrative, by turns winsome and hilarious, is populated with well-drawn comic characters and filled with snappy dialogue; even a cleverly anthropomorphized Mother Earth gets in a few good zingers. The book’s action climax is also delightfully surreal.
A fun, raucous eco-novel.