Bestselling novelist Mosley (The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, 2010) offers disenchanted denizens of the 21st century a screed-like guide to casting off the oppressive shackles of modern society.
It’s not as though the author lacks for laudable ideas in outlining a 12-step program to help disheartened Americans redefine themselves and gain control over forces—both political and economic—that seem hopelessly unconquerable. His recommendations to a populace beaten down by economic turmoil and deceitful leaders to be more honest with themselves and to find common ground with people of conflicting viewpoints by focusing on issues they do agree on are well-conceived and -articulated calls to action in a tumultuous time. Nevertheless, his program feels too vaguely prescriptive to do much more than remind readers that such problems exist, and that though they might be solvable, it won’t be easy. Compounding the problem is his apparently unintentionally comical rendering of what he sees as the nefarious villains pulling the strings behind the scenes: the “Joes,” or the class of wealthy elite who control the vast majority of the world’s wealth and resources—not through hard work or brilliance, he contends, but rather through a quirk of fate. The Joes, he argues, are in thrall to their overlord, the Great Shadow Joe—capitalism—and the only way they can be stopped is by a popular uprising that requires everyone else to recognize the truth of their situation, understand the value that they contribute to society and unite in common cause to topple the existing geopolitical infrastructure (peacefully, of course). Mosley’s a bit short on specifics when it comes to precisely how his recommendations will bring about major change, however, and his melodramatic rhetoric tends to obscure his solid ideas.
The author’s heart is in the right place, but it’s tough to rally the masses when your message seems more likely to appeal to the fringe.