City of Falling Bronze: A Novel of Pandemic Portland, 2020
by Capslock Spellcheck

"Was it futile to share a laugh at the nonsense, such as women didn't bear children but "persons" did?"

This book depicts a writer taking a directive from The Masked One who "formulated out of the atmosphere" in the middle of the pandemic. Mr. Ketman, the writer, had just been affirmed as good by thought police in Portland—though they walked off with some of his dictionaries. Afraid of being "cancelled," Mr. Ketman is instructed to write the story of a Diversity Officer, whom the author ingeniously calls Basil DeKay, implying facetiously that the move towards inclusion is some kind of slowly growing cancer decaying on the surface of a longer civilization that he fundamentally admires. What the author successfully forces readers to consider throughout is how "Words and power make something called discourse" and that "Some forms of oppression do not require physical force."

DeKay, gathering women who look like and think like herself, sets out to take down Dr. Bomberger. Her motto is "To promote diversity, inclusion and equity, we must expose, humiliate, silence and remove anyone who disagrees." With classrooms closed for the pandemic, there is no break in the velocity of her performance of restorative justice—except bronze elks. Thus the author successfully sets up the drama of a raucous, humorously surreal (if somewhat embittered) novel, depicting minutiae of life in academe such as petty jealousies over who gets concert tickets. Details of place are successfully woven in, such as how characters could only dash towards a bus stop shelter as an oasis in the rain once they ascertained that a "homeless citizen did not inhabit it." The narrative also unquestionably makes readers confront identity, posing questions such as "Did animals have an inner sense of identity?" and "Who assigns the sex of animals?" in this unique novel.

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