Monday, July 8, 2013

Christian Nation

I bought Christian Nation: A Novel the minute I heard about it, because it sounded like a fascinating premise. Although I don't really think there's much chance of dominionists taking over America and making it into a "Christian nation," I do think that a lot of what is depicted in this novel is an accurate reflection of what the dominionists want. As such, it seems like a useful concept for a novel: Look, this is what evangelicals would like the United States to look like. Terrifying, isn't it?

Unfortunately, it's not living up to the premise, not by a long shot. I'm currently about halfway through, and the book is, sadly, dull as dishwater. Frederic C. Rich is a lawyer, not a novelist, and it shows. Oh, boy, does it show. Rich doesn't really seem to grasp the novel form. The book (written as a fictional memoir) suffers from immense swathes of tell, don't show: This happened. Then this happened. And then this happened. The narrative is only rarely broken up by "dialogue" that's really just the wooden characters speechifying, talking in a stilted way real human beings don't. There's no character development, no genuine effort to give the characters three dimensions. It reads like a history book, and a dry one at that.

In short, it's not at all what I had hoped for when I read the synopsis. Since I own it, I'm slogging my way through it, but it's not a particularly enjoyable experience. I will say that I've been having nightmares about it, so in some way it's disturbing. But I attribute that more to the general scariness of the concept than the writer's execution of the storyline.

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