Good for a chuckle, though as its title implies, a muddle, perhaps more accurately reflecting the political system it seeks...

SNAFU

A TALE OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND A GIRL

A satirical send-up of everyone involved in American politics—the Electoral College, journalists, Democrats, Republicans, and especially the South—poking fun at a culture that takes itself too seriously, from an author who doesn’t.

Though some familiar characters make appearances in SNAFU (including “Slick Willie” Clinton, Rachel Maddow, and “Obamacare statues”), the terrain is comic fantasy, meant to spur laughs rather than argue any particular angle, and to some success. In novelist Plaster’s alternate America, New York Times headlines read: “Court Declares Constitution Unconstitutional, Finally” and “Far Right Wing Extremist Scheme to Destroy Democracy Thwarted by Enlightened Ninth Circuit Ruling,” the latter referring to the abolishment of the Electoral College. The novel follows the distinct courses of four major characters: a Democratic campaign coordinator; a professor whose penchants include scraping roadkill and studying “entirely academic subject[s] that interest him not at all” (including the Electoral College); a pea-brained local journalist; and Virgil Carter, a door-to-door salesman who decides to run for county commissioner and ends up vice presidential candidate. Most of Plaster’s tale is set in Okmulgee County, Okla., and through a series of absurd turns, the year’s presidential contest becomes dependent on the whims of this miniscule, redneck electorate. Though the writing is fast paced and thickly settled with satirical punch lines, the jokes are easy ones and monotonously toned. True, the author doesn’t spare anyone, but he doesn’t spare any opportunity for a jab—clichés and well-worn stereotypes abound. By the end, a campaign with the slogan “Everybody Counts” has resulted in, among other ridiculous snafus, the kidnapping of eight members of the U.S. Supreme Court. The clever narrative structure results in lost focus and tension with so much point-of-view shifting and so many unnecessary details, however laughable. The jokes grow stale, even in this short book, and the caricature-riddled narrative has little to fall back on.

Good for a chuckle, though as its title implies, a muddle, perhaps more accurately reflecting the political system it seeks to satire than the author intended.

Pub Date: July 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615666211

Page Count: 194

Publisher: Mossik Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2012

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A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

SHOW TRIALS

HOW PROPERTY GETS MORE LEGAL PROTECTION THAN PEOPLE IN OUR FAILED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

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.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

NO REMORSE

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.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980806601

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Marq Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2012

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