Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cedric and Willa Flip Through "The Overton Window"

NOTE: This is not my review of Glenn Beck's new novel. That will come once I actually get my hands on a copy, and first I need to find one. I've read previews and reviews, though. This scene emerged full-blown in my imagination while I was walking to the store the other day. These two particular characters of mine are even less impressed by Glenn Beck than I am, and I've always though he was more than a little over the edge. And that was before he started getting really paranoid and obsessed with conspiracy theories I myself dropped like a rock after 9/11. And I call myself a libertarian. Anyway, here's my non-review, a preliminary impression in the form of a story...

Update: The official reviews are out. The reviewers are all either laughing or groaning at the ineptitude of Beck and his self-plagiarizing ghostwriter. Sometimes first impressions are not wrong...

Cedric and Willa Flip Through The Overton Window:
A Fictional Impression

Cedric and Willa: redhead and blonde, both fortysomething and beautiful, brother and sister pretending to be husband and wife. Every so often, they like to take a trip to the local Barnes and Noble store to have lunch and discuss books. Willa, by long-established habit, always checks the magazine racks first. Cedric prefers to scan the new books before he looks at the magazines.

Today, he spots a new book with lots of copies and a 35% discount sticker on each one. It's Glenn Beck's new and much-hyped Thriller, called The Overton Window. Having been annoyed enough by Bill O'Reilly's attempt at a novel to make fun of it in a now notorious blog post, he expects the book to be filled with the kind of howlers non-edited novice novelists are notorious for. He and Willa are perpetual NaNoWriMo winners, and they have come to know such passages as "NaNoisms." O'Reilly didn't disappoint him, and neither does Beck. But what he doesn't expect as he flips through the book is too many speeches and too little action.

Willa interrupts her magazine search to join Cedric at the new books. "Hey, Red, whatcha find?" He shows her the cover and smiles wryly. "I thought you didn't like Beck."

He looks at her with mock seriousness, wags his finger at her three times, and solemnly intones: "Don't, tease, the panther."

She pets his head as if he were a cat.

"Don't tease the panther!" he shrieks, startling her (and everybody around them, too). He twitches and sputters; she laughs helplessly, nearly falling over. He catches her and holds her until she can catch her breath, then kisses her gently on the lips.

She takes the book out of his hand. "So what did you find?"

"Apparently our friend here thinks that being paranoid makes him qualified to write a thriller."

"Like those celebrities who think being a celebrity automagically makes them rock stars, right?"

"Exactly. Just like Paris Hilton trying to be Madonna and coming off as yet another female William Hung wannabe. Their novels tend to read like they were rushed to the presses straight from NaNoWriMo, even though they hire mercenary professionals to ghostwrite 'em."

Willa sighs. "Kateness probably writes better first drafts than some of these people." Kateness is the "WriMo" who writes a million words every NaNoWriMo. Willa hands the book back to her brother. "Find any juicy NaNoisms in there?"

"I just gave you one." Cedric winks. "Sure enough, there's more where that one came from." He flips the book's pages rapidly like one of those old Big Little Books with the animations. "Furthermore, Beck seems to be the kind of Ayn Rand wannabe who thinks the best parts of Atlas Shrugged were the speeches. His characters talk way too much, at the expense of the action. Not only that, they preach. The early reviews actually called Beck's thriller 'unthrilling', and that's why. He doesn't need just a ghostwriter. He needs an editor."

"He'll never get one," says Willa, "and he'd never accept one anyway. You know those celebrity pretend novelists. They're edit-proof. They refuse to realize that telling a story takes as much training as playing a guitar. Any so-called novel by Paris Hilton and her ghostwriter would be the same damn thing, I'm afraid."

"Thing is, his target readership don't care. They eagerly mainline Tim LaHaye and his ghostwriter's crimes against fiction and good English, so they'll devour this latest emanation from their current fave Faux News pundit even if he can't write their way out of a paper bag. Captive audience. It's already a certified bestseller, not least of all because all the conservative groups pre-ordered it and are giving it away free to people who pay for the privilege."

Willa takes the book out of Cedric's hands and puts it back on the table. "Let's not talk about it anymore. Just thinking about any of those professional trolls at Faux News makes me ill. Let's go eat something." She takes his hand and pulls him insistently toward the café.

Cedric did buy a copy of The Overton Window, of course. In fact, he's composing his review as I write this. He knows exactly what he's going to call it: "Let's Tease the Panther."

Copyright © 2010 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
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