Book talk appearances

* Tuesday, Sept. 3, 6 p.m., Keene Public Library auditorium.

*InsideScoopLive podcast interview about End Times

End Times radio appearance: Seacoast Currents' co-hosts Kathy Somssich and Larry Drake grilled me hard recently: I made them laugh a lot. Listen to archive stream here. (click on July 11 show, I'm in the first hour)

 



End Times Reviews

 

Reviewed by Independent Review of Books (7/22)

 

Six years ago, Michael McCord offered a dire warning in the first part of his Real America saga, and this second installment, End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America, is disturbingly relevant and eerily recognizable.

 

The story centers around an alternate American universe that combines the best elements of an organized crime syndicate, a racist death cult, and an “every man for himself” philosophy. With a deplorable demagogue, Lawrence C. “Demon Seed” Bowie, at the head of this twisted new order, it’s impossible not to see the parallels between this outlandish story and the political reality of modern America.

 

It’s said that reality is starting to outpace satire: if the current political climate were put into fiction, readers wouldn’t find it believable. McCord manages to avoid this quandary by making a novel that is entertaining and insightful on its own terms, adding a new interpretation of the strange drama unfolding before us.

 

Even though readers will immediately see the parallels between McCord’s America and the one of today, the storyline is just outlandish enough to offer renewed perspective on the current political moment, so this off-the-rails novel edges closer to disturbing than dismissible. A few years ago, this satire of American politics might have been labeled clumsy or hyperbolic, but with every passing news cycle, the content and tone of this book seem more dialed in the direction of the United States today. So the novel manages to be distressingly realistic, which exemplifies just how far down the rabbit hole the political situation has gone.

 

From the pro-white rhetoric and childish name-calling, to proposed race wars against moocher-liberal-feminists, there are moments on nearly every page that will snap your brain to a recent headline. The supporting characters are hilarious and bizarrely original: the master psychic spy handler or the disapproving mother of the new American Emperor walk an impressively fine line between character and caricature.

 

Importantly, this isn’t just a thinly veiled manifesto of hate for Donald Trump and MAGA followers – though the above may suggest otherwise, and the novel will certainly be more immediately appealing to readers of a certain political stripe. But there are also important conversations about power, justice, economics, and international cooperation that play out in these pages. 

 

The juxtaposition of Old America vs. Real America can be somewhat reductive, and there is a slight lack of nuance in some of the allegorical elements of this story, but it generally offers a kind of tongue-in-cheek catharsis. The tiny details are what make the book hum with energy and snark, including the “Guardians of Galt,” an Ayn Rand reference describing the most elite of the super rich in this horror show of America.

 

The language of the book is simple and straightforward, with limited need for flowering descriptions or long philosophical pieces of narration. The ideas of this book are flung across the room between characters, or spewed directly into microphones, giving the prose a visceral and immediate relevance. Ultimately, McCord’s latest book declares that the time for delicate social commentary has come to an end, and End Times offers an intelligent and incisive shot across the bow.

*****

 

Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views

 

End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America” by Michael McCord is the second book in his Real America Saga, a political satire set in the not-to-distant future that hits distressingly close to home.

 

America is now divided into two separate countries – Old USA and Real America. Real America is ruled by Real America, Inc., led by Lawrence Bowie, self-appointed Emperor Supreme for Life. Gone is the independence enjoyed by American citizens through freedom of speech, elections and democracy – replaced with, among other things, the return of free-labor (slavery), the dissolution of women’s reproductive rights and public education. Bowie is not too bright but somehow he seems to rise against all odds. He doesn’t even waste his time pretending to tell the truth. In fact, he relishes the fact that his supporters follow him blindly, no matter what he says or does, as long as it’s against the “moocher-taker-liberal-feminist-elitist traitors.” Sound familiar?

 

With a cast of characters that range from conservative white-collar-fanatics to mob-like gangster thugs, to a resistance group led by a psychic, this story will have readers biting their knuckles, banging their heads against walls, laughing out loud and crying like a baby.  McCord’s story begs the question, “Has America lost its mind?”

 

Wow. So, this is the most fun I’ve had with a book in a long time. Even as I write this though, I’m haunted by the fiction that touches so close to reality. I’m trying to write this in generalities because I don’t want to give away too much of the story – you’re seriously just going to have to read the book.

 

The characters are phenomenal – readers will have an intense reaction to each of them one way or the other – it’s either love or hate folks, there is no margin. I do have a few favorites – one being Mama Bowie (who thinks her son is an idiot and joins the resistance), and the other is Penelope, the psychic chosen to lead the resistance.

 

The writing is superb, the humor sadistic, and the plotline bizarre. Back when life as we knew it hadn’t yet taken a nose-dive into the ranks of insanity, one might think this story too far-fetched to be considered anything but dystopian fiction. But reading it today one has to scratch their head and wonder, “How is this even possible?”

 

For those that didn’t catch “The Execution Channel,” the first book in the saga, “End Times” has a few references: Setting the Stage and End Times Cast Crew & Glossary that will bring readers up to speed on the key players and terms. I was late to the party and started with “End Times,” but I found it to be a complete stand-alone novel.  I am curious to learn more about how these characters came to be however and hope to catch “The Execution Channel” at some point soon. What I find most terrifying about McCord’s books is that he started writing this saga well before the absurd reality that is our world today. That’s some kind of insight.

 

“End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America” by Michael McCord is not a book for everyone – there is a certain group that just won’t be able to see or appreciate the irony. I’m delighted to say however, that I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to the final book in the saga, “Penelope.”

 

*****

Reviewed by BookViral

In an age where a politician’s every word – and every twitter post – is endlessly scrutinized, End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America proves cuttingly allegorical. Of course, authors have a long history of skewering political systems for tragicomic gain but just because satire is near the knuckle doesn’t detract from the kernels of truth that permeates its pages. Following on from The Execution Channel: A Political Fable, McCord’s latest offering is certainly an indictment of America’s political players and society itself. With its acerbic narrative perspective, dark humour, and even its absurdity it’s hard to deny the ever-present element of plausibility that makes it quite terrifying. Especially when you stop to think what could happen if someone like Lawrence C. ‘Demon Seed’ Bowie came to prominence.

 

Regardless of which end of the political spectrum you find yourself on, there’s no denying we live in odd political times where truth is often stranger than fiction. From problematic political structures, shifting societal norms to the rise of celebrity politicians McCord has skillfully highlighted hot-button issues whilst helping us keep our sense of humour along the way. End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America is for readers who love entertainment that makes them laugh out loud whilst highlighting the absurdity of issues that in reality are deadly serious. 


Frequently asked questions about the Real America saga...

What is the RA flag on the book cover all about?

It stands for Real America, the emerging new nation in End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America. It was still forming in The Execution Channel: A Political Fable.

 

I've never heard of Real America. How is that different from, well, the United States of America?

Sorry, you need to read the books to find out. I can say Real America will look like a familiar but demented sibling of our current situation.

 

What are these John Galt references such as Galtian Imperatives and Guardians of Galt? 

As you may have heard, John Galt is the fictional hero in novelist Ayn Rand's popular book Atlas Shrugged. In Real America, Rand and Galt are embraced as 21st Century deities that inspire all Real Americans to scale new heights of non-enlightened self interest.

 

What are the Galtian Imperatives and can I buy some locally?

The Galtian Imperatives are a powerful, faith-based approach to economic policy that promises prosperity for all who matter through extreme austerity measure, maximum tax cuts for the "Guardians of Galt" (i.e., the makers and job creators in the top .00001 percent income bracket) and innovative entertainment and investment schemes like The Execution Channel in which public plunder subsidizes private sector profits. The Galtian Imperatives are amazingly effective because no one understands them or can explain how or even if they work. Yet, the Galtian Imperatives make people feel righteous that they are doing the right thing as they create widespread economic devastation for an ultimate good.

  

Emperor Supreme for Life Lawrence C. "Demon Seed" Bowie of Real America can't be real, can he?

That's the secret to Bowie's political success: he's such a rhetorical blowhard, pathological liar and corrupt, incompetent leader that his opponents continually underestimate him much to their own peril.