Jackson Thomas is no longer mayor, but The Ville will not leave him be. The new mayor, Myron Willever, sparks rivalry with the town of Brodman’s Bluff until a summer festival explodes into a riot that Jackson quells but not before an unknown rioter cold-cocks an unwed mother into a still birth. Myron’s wife, Liu Hsi, connives to get Jackson arrested for inciting riot and infanticide. Jackson’s son, Casavero, his friends and their schoolmaster, Horatio, have long enjoyed playing at word games based on Shakespeare, and now talk themselves into a pilgrimage to the mountains to beseech angels and ministers of grace to save Jackson from jail. Jackson has no idea they have slipped out of town to tell themselves amusing tales, they have no idea he has been released to direct his own defense under house arrest and no one knows what Liu Hsi has planned.
More than “a cracker-jack detective story and courtroom drama”, though I thank and will quote the reviewer again, in this book “a post-apocalyptic America chooses between reason and superstition as it revives a lost literary heritage in this beguiling fantasy [featuring] a fully realized culture and a quasi-Shakespearean diction that’s vigorous and musical without being fusty or quaint [and] an engrossing yarn that embeds an off-kilter perspective on history in rich language and storytelling.” You also get metafictional parodies, fantasy satirizing the belief in fantasy – and jokes to boot.
Jack London lamented that he had spent his life as a working class intellectual rubbing shoulders with the underprivileged on tramp steamers, in gold mining camps, on wharves and in warehouses while reading extensively and writing books of serious social and philosophical merit only to be renowned for writing about dogs. It irked him yet inspired me decades later. Eighteen-wheelers, psych wards, factory floors and the halls of academia and corporate America may not be perfect matches to London’s, but they have all been part of my own working class adventures. I have lived in numerous careers the fiction that each was intrinsically important while in fact each was merely research for the role of Carl Stevens, Writer.
Professor-in-training (in three fields so far, philosophy, history and psychology), nurse in a psychiatric facility, long-haul truck driver, security guard, waiter, bartender, clerical worker, manual laborer, engineer - they were all facades I presented while my true life’s work went on behind the scenes, reading and writing and incorporating life experience with the scholarly to create the self-identity that is now creating novels.
There comes a time in every good theme's life when it begins to turn in upon itself. If one begins to think that the Canterbury Tales in Neverland is about "story" and then later you expand that to something like "story is our most important source of information and our most unreliable" and then you begin to think of experimental fiction asking "what is a story and who is really telling it" then you run the risk of someday six characters in search of a play taking over your novel.
The Canterbury Tales in Neverland
Chapter, the eleventh; wherein characters decide to alter the course of the