Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Good Country by Laleh Khadivi

This novel is a snapshot of current affairs, the emotional environment of USA, and we who inhabit it.
The USA is not really a easy place to find a feeling of home and community. Some of us feel that is made worse by clever marketing strategies of international corporate interests that have learned that divide and sell is a profitable business model. I don’t mean to suggest that there was necessarily a conspiracy meeting of big business cabals that came up with this, but rather it is a result of mass media run as for-profit business by for-profit businesses and supported by the backing of for-profit business, naturally supporting its interest. We are set against one another to sell things. The buying choice of children is not understandable to parents, this aids in moving product and causes more alienation from one another since we have little to identify ourselves with other than our product purchase choices.

This novel is not about business and mass media, but this has set the mood.
It is simply a story of teens in Los Angeles area, Southern California and blowback of US imperialism. The man figure of the novel is Raz, the USA born son of middle aged Iranian immigrants. In a way it parallels the stories of early 20th Century European immigrant children whose parents have made the very bold and radical move to an attempted a new better life in America, once A Good Country, only to find their children groundless, between worlds, subject to abuse by the children of the those who came here a generation or so before them, looking for a place to belong and susceptible to conscription in street gangs.

Here the setting is not the tenements of the Lower East Side with its poverty, but the children of very successful immigrants in fine houses with swimming pools in Laguna Beach, yet still lost, abused by religious intolerance made far worse by religious fundamentalism global terrorism that is a result of USA’s and The West’s century of manipulations in the mid-east. And what does popular USA
corporate secular culture offer? It is apparently void of a spiritual center, or even basic community. This environment is ripe for the fundamentalist fringes, of whatever origin, religious, or political, to come to the rescue.

The novel is really a very simple story, lucidly and believably told, of a bright sweet teen boy’s final high school years and his yearning for a place to belong with loving partners, friends.
The novel is written by a woman who is very good at creating the world of a young man including his sexuality and the casual marijuana use of him and his young friends.

In the news terrorist attacks cause the plot to shift toward tragedy in this engaging yet simply plotted novel.

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