Dead Book Walking

I’m writing a book that will probably never get published. Not because it’s a bad book, necessarily, though it may be, but because it’s a book about people trying to escape the kind of broken country we might end up with if a president like ours had it all his way. I’m sure you can imagine. 

In fact, it’s because of what you can imagine that publishers and agents won’t even look at books like mine. People don’t want to be reminded. Publishers think readers want their novels to be sand they can bury their heads in, not binoculars into a terrifying future. Readers want escape, not reality. It’s why the few novels similar to mine that have been published, like Sam Bourne’s To Kill The President and Howard Jacobson’s Pussy, struggled to get there, despite their authors’ previous records of publishing success. So, yes, the odds stacked are against me.

Still, I keep writing. Why? Well, I spent nine months completing a first draft before someone who would know pointed out I was nuts. But that’s a lot of work to throw away. And, well, what I was writing seemed so plausible. You’ve heard people say, “you couldn’t make this shit up if you tried,” right? Well, I’m not. It’s like all the puzzle pieces necessary for the scary outcomes I’m conjuring are really out there. I’m only imagining a future where all those pieces snap into place.

What pieces? Okay, I’ll name just a few.

  • Courts packed with Trump appointees, many of them patently unqualified.
  • A Republican Congress that will likely never impeach Trump, no matter what Robert Mueller concludes, and will continue to pass his agenda and shrug off his outrageous actions or pronouncements.
  • Trump’s racist policies against immigrants, refugees and undocumented residents, and the resulting push-back from many sanctuary cities.
  • The president’s hostility toward the mainstream press.
  • The majority of the voters, most of them from the east and west coasts, who voted against the president.
  • Too many people who take for fact what they read on Fox News and Twitter and blindly support Trump despite policies that are against their own self-interest.
  • Future budgets that, because new tax ‘reforms’ are certain to create massive deficits, will likely be balanced by cuts in entitlements and other programs, no doubt further enraging the millions of us who were outraged to begin with.
  • An executive branch that is dangerously understaffed and cabinet members who’ve made it their mission to demolish their departments.
  • Two generals on Trump’s senior staff, and a creepy fondness for and free reign given to the military.
  • Also, a creepy, almost fawning deference to and possible indebtedness to Russia and other nations led by strong men whose interests align with Trump’s but not with America’s—contrasted with a baffling indifference to and often insulting hostility toward America’s historical allies.
  • Not to mention Trump’s personal traits, including his lying, narcissism, racism and xenophobia; intellectual laziness and cultural provincialism; womanizing and sexual harassment, bullying, anger management issues and possible incipient dementia.

Did I miss anything?

Okay, yes, it is depressing. I don’t like to be reminded either—until I think about my book! The possibilities are endless, and they all seem so damned plausible. That’s why I can’t stop. How can I give up on such a puzzle when, with almost every one of his tweets, out pops another piece that plops neatly into place? It’s a picture he could paint himself if we were to let Trump be Trump. Isn’t that the Trump we fear most, the one he yearns to be?

‘Even if you can find a publisher,’ friends and mentors tell me, ‘some of the things you describe might be completely out-of-date by the time your book would get published. So much more will have happened by then.’

I know. Armageddon, anyone? Or, if we’re lucky, the outrage might reach a tipping point, and we could have a democratic-led Congress. One can only hope.

Either way, my book would be dead in the water. So why can’t I stop?

Look, nobody wants to imagine the worst that could happen. But what if it does because we didn’t? Isn’t that how Trump got elected president in the first place? Isn’t that why books like mine should be published?

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