Every leader, and every regime, and every movement, and every organization that steps across the line to terrorism must be banished from the discourse of civilized human life.
ALAN KEYES, speech, Apr. 21, 2002
The big threat to America is the way we react to terrorism by throwing away what everybody values about our country–a commitment to human rights. America is a great nation because we are a good nation. When we stop being a good nation, we stop being great.
BOBBY KENNEDY, O Magazine, Feb. 2007
What must we do, how far must we go, to preserve our way of life? Our very lives? And where, we must ask, should the line be drawn, the line which divides the moral from the immoral?
In this very short novel, A. J. O’Connell asks that question in the voice of one of those many minions of government placed in the position to make those tough decisions – who lives? And who dies? And like so many other of her stripe, it isn’t until much later that she begins to ask “And who, really, gets to make those decisions?”
I loved this little book. Of course, I am myself torn by the actions of our government, actions which, though often praised, should just as often be questioned. What is the true rationalization behind how certain governmental entities choose to address terrorism? Who makes the choices as to who is deemed a terrorist and how that decision is made? I should be quite clear in stating that I am absolutely and without question anti-terrorism of any sort.
Terrorism is, in my mind, the most savage and unworthy act a human can commit against others, no matter the reason. However, I am also not a fan of some of the methods we, as Americans, seem to condone in the so-called “War on Terror.” While I am not a Hawk, I am certainly not a Dove, either. There must be, as in all things governmental, a balance – a balance that is often sadly lacking in the management capabilities of those who are chosen to govern.
Ms. O’Connell puts it quite well in her introduction to this story:
“Lastly, I would like to thank the U.S. Government for not coming to my house and carrying me off in the middle of the night while I researched this. I realize that my search history looks pretty suspicious.”
And that, my dears, is the whole point, in a nutshell. A. J. does a masterful job of placing her characters in a situation which has no right or wrong, no true good guys (though one true bad guy posing as a good guy who deserves to have very, very bad things happen to him . . . ) and no real winners in a situation spiraling totally out of control. As Hunter Thompson so succinctly put it:
“The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”
If your interests are the smart, the funny, the snide and the thoughtful, don’t miss this little book. It is a true gem of Modern Americana with a twisted mindset that has me looking forward to going back and reading the first book, as well as look forward to anything Ms. O’Connell writes next.