Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Holyoke: The Belle Skinner Legacy, by Jack Dunn

Reprinted from months ago. This is interesting in terms of the recent election. Can we imagine anyone finding Jack's story of Maggie acceptable now?

I was born in Holyoke, and my brother who lives in Western MA gave me this for Christmas. Just out last month. Autographed. We usually read what we give each other beforehand, but I suspect he didn't read this. He is considerably more liberal than I, and not averse to exposing me to ideas more congenial to him than to me, but he's not flipping nuts.

Holyoke is an historical novel which flicks back and forth between Maggie, a female Kerry worker despondent about the 2004 election, and Belle Skinner, an early feminist and philanthropist from Holyoke. Before getting underway, the book has a Dedication, About the Author, Acknowlegements, Author's Note, Prologue, Introduction, and Preface. Not a good sign. But at least he gets right into it in Chapter One: Maggie O'Reilly's brain is home to every treasured, paranoiac, myth about George Bush and the Republicans; so unhinged that I kept expecting a punchline, or a good laugh at herself. Or something.

I quote exactly - this is not a parody. This is not written by a highschooler.
How could Bush have been "re-elected?" Had the elections been rigged or did voters actually want him to be president? Would the world survive another four years of him?

...The excitement she had felt, expecting a new beginning in America, had ended abruptly with the Republican machinery defeating the Democrats. How they had managed it, she still didn't know...In fact, she didn't even believe the elections were valid. Reinforcing her position, she remembered that Kerry had been the clear winner in the exit polls. Again, she wondered why the Democrats had not contested the election. There were some serious questions about the legitimacy of the last two presidential elections, when Bush had been "elected" and then "re-elected." Whether or not the elections had been fixed or the number of votes fabricated, the Republicans had squeaked to victory in key states. They had used computer hardware and software of dubious reliability; and relied on talk-radio and television to increase the level of voter fear and hate, mostly of outsiders and homosexuals. To Maggie, it didn't seem that gay rights should be a main issue for voters.

Those in John Kerry's camp, who had anticipated that the Republicans would be this organized and devious, lost out to others who could not see the mind control that Bush's people were employing to get people to believe they were in imminent danger from terrorists and others...They had used God: to get elected, to get their mandate to kill, to gain more power and control and to accumulate more personal wealth. Maggie was still wondering when God had become so heavily involved in this election, and why the Bush people thought they were his chosen representatives on earth, when they were murdering innocent people for oil.

...Most of those working on the Kerry campaign needed to get the system fixed. They needed to stop the new moneyment from stealing from them and diverting their money to the ultra-wealthy, and to war. They had children to feed. With the spiral of effects, from companies cutting jobs and prices soaring, they had no savings left.

It turns out that Maggie attends Mass three times a week - yeah, those folks voted for Kerry in droves, huh? - and is handed a pamphlet by an African-American nun (of course). The nun had been crying over the dead Iraqi children, and of course the pamphlet shows how George Bush broke all the requirements for a Just War.

Knowing that George Bush and his administrators had never, and would never in the future, consider adhering to any of these conditions, Maggie nearly burst into tears too. She suspected that Bush and company did not have the ability to understand complex matter.

Today's question: What would be the evidence that one could reason with either the character Maggie, or the author Jack Dunn?


jlbussey said...

I don't think there is any evidence that they'd listen to. I'm sure they're happy now though...

terri said...

So how does this book end?

In fiery, Bush-inspired Armageddon?

Evidence wouldn't sway the narrative in her head.

The whole "we went to war for oil" thing irritates me without end. I can think of several reasons to be against the War in Iraq. I can think of a few reasons that took us there. At no point do I think America hoping to profit from Iraq's oil entered into it.

When people repeat that mantra, it's like they're wearing a huge banner declaring--"Critical Thinking Disengaged".

Anonymous said...

Instead of suspecting if he read why don't you ask him? If he did why not ask if he believes that garbage? Every dem I know thinks the RNC or the neo-conservative cabal or the international zionist conspiracy or maybe all 3 manipulated the election.

Donna B. said...

That was painful to read. It reminds me a bit of my sister the last 8 years and even I can write better than that.

Your Correspondent said...


1. Millions of purple-fingered Iraqis voted for a democratic centralized government three times. At the risk of their lives.

2. Both the al-Queda terrorists and Saddam ruled by terror and murder. Not just fought a war violently. Ruled violently.

3. It would have been easier and cheaper to simply steal the oil. In fact, that might have been a better idea. We could have left Saddam in Baghdad; there is no oil in Baghdad.

4. Bush is to the left of both al-Queda and Saddam. Including the issues of free speech and gay rights.

5. Most of the deaths in Iraq are the result of Iraqis deciding to fight and ethnically cleanse each other. They weren't shot or bombed by the US.

6. The Communist party of Iraq supported Bush's invasion.

7. Saddam had a long history of working on nukes and other WMD's. Given another few years he would have arrived at nuclear weapons.

8. Saddam never hesitated to use any weapon he had. There was no red line for him between regular weapons and WMD's. Unlike other nuclear states. That is the meaning of his famous use of gas against the Kurds and the Iranians.

Anonymous said...

I was ocne told something by an instructor that I knew was wrong, and I'm sure he knew it was wrong. I saw no point in arguing; I just gave up on him.

Belle doesn't know she's wrong; she sincerely believes she's right. Most of us know there's no use arguing or discussing points with a true believer (other than getting them to melt down in a fury, which can be fun if you have the time).