Arts & Culture

The Homegrown American Terrorist Fiction Trend

Recently, The Daily Beast called David Goodwillie’s book, American Subversive, "A novel for our times", prompting me to think that The Beast was maybe giving me a hot heaping of hyperbole: "David Goodwillie has set his expansive novel in the … Read More

By / May 3, 2010

Recently, The Daily Beast called David Goodwillie’s book, American Subversive, "A novel for our times", prompting me to think that The Beast was maybe giving me a hot heaping of hyperbole:

"David Goodwillie has set his expansive novel in the unsettlingly near future of 2011. In Lower Manhattan, Aidan Cole gossip-blogs his way into self-decay; like so many young professionals in the post-recession grimness, he has become disenchanted with his profession and pessimistic about his future. At night, Aidan parties with rich, connected, fabulous friends, including a handsome South American financier, Touché (who becomes the plot’s perfect red herring), and Aidan’s bland, unlikable girlfriend, Cressida."

"When an explosion tears through Barneys, Aidan receives an anonymous email reading "She did it," and a picture of Paige. How did this normal, pretty girl become a dangerous revolutionary, and why does Aidan of all people receive such information? Aidan, under the delusion that involving the police or FBI would be a mistake, and half hoping he can break a major story and reinvigorate his career, decides to find Paige himself. Meanwhile, the radicals, whose previous attacks have been casualty-free, plan to set off another bomb, this time filled with nails, glass, and shrapnel-this time, meant to kill people-and Paige balks; American Subversive kicks into high gear."

That’s a dilly of a pickle and sounds like a riveting plot to a book that I’m probably not going to find time to read, mainly because I’m already reading American Taliban by Pearl Abraham.  A book in which the we follow:

"a young surfer/skater on a distinctly American spiritual journey that begins with Transcendentalism and countercultural impulses, enters into world mysticism, and finds its destination in Islam.

 

and…

"An avid, near six-foot-tall surfer, John Jude Parish cuts a striking figure on the beaches of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. When he isn’t on water, John lives on wheels, a self-described skate rat-grinding and kickflipping with his friends, and encouraged by his progressive parents. His hero is the great explorer, Richard Burton, his personal prophet is Bob Dylan, and his world is wide open – to new ideas, philosophies, and religions."

 

If I would have been handed both American Subversive and American Taliban at the same time, could I say which one I’d pick to read?  Probably not.  It’s not like Goodwillie’s book doesn’t sound interesting, but I can only take so much "homegrown American terrorist fiction." Though, after learning the suspect in the attempted Times Square car bomb attack wasn’t exactly an Osama Bin Laden doppeganger, I think it’s safe to say that books like these are sadly very relevant and "of our times."