POTUS: A Political Fantasy in Three Parts
by T.C. Owen
Page Publishing

"America is like the frontier—beckoning us to it, just out of reach, receding before us to the edge of Eternity, making us strive to achieve our dreams..."

This humdinger of a magical realist political thriller stars President T.C.—a hard-riding, hard-shooting conservative hero. He rides his way through contemporary terrorist attacks and a recalcitrant U.S. Congress with his Six Riders—"Death Riding Six White Horses"—as he is fond of declaring. Imbued with a personality that is a mash-up of a spectrum of manly guys from Hollywood Westerns, war flicks, and political thrillers, POTUS embraces life to the fullest with most of the hierarchical and violent clichés that accompany these genres. That said, the overall effect of his wild adventures is more humorous than earnest, and that lightens the hard edges of the story.

T.C.'s flying horse, Rider, who appears to be wingless, brings to mind the proverbial white horse of Wild West heroes cloned with Pegasus of Greek fame. Pegasus sprang from the blood of Medusa while beheaded by Perseus, a fitting template for the mythical, fabulist threads and equally violent ethos that permeate this tale. On that note, POTUS is definitely not a loveless bachelor, and he woos a string of strong women who almost always expire, whether from cancer or a violent demise. It may seem that POTUS has no nuance in his personality blend of John Wayne, John Rambo, and John McClane. However, T.C.'s character shows its complexity in that he is misogynistic yet still admires tough, independent females. Each woman he is attracted to in his series of mostly monogamous relationships is a solid match for the rigorous life he leads.

POTUS is not only fond of direct engagement with America's enemies, but he also loves to rile up the Democrats in true contemporary fashion. He just may be the biggest troll in America, and it becomes obvious that his attorney general is definitely not the people's lawyer either. T.C. needs as much protection as any controversial resident of the White House, plus a perpetual clean-up crew to mop up the gore that splatters all around him. He's never without his Second Amendment tools. And where other chief executives spend their spare time on the golf course, jogging, or in the gym to relax and maintain fitness, T.C. prefers the shooting range.

Fantasy and magical realism are often noted as the literature of dissent. In this case, the protagonist is not so much bucking the system as perpetuating the narcissistic American legend of superiority, self-sufficiency, and manifest destiny. The dissent amounts to bolstering the ideal of defeating a perpetual, exoteric enemy versus the gentler esoteric ideal of the American dream.

There can be no doubt that the author has constructed an imaginative story arc in this engaging novel. However, this is not a book that flows in the straightforward and fast-paced fashion of most modern thrillers. Instead, long dialogues and interior monologues plus a meandering narrative spill out in an almost stream-of-consciousness style that causes readers to pause and ponder while being entertained. The tale requires some close reading to negotiate its hairpin turns and the almost psychedelic, throbbing fictive reality in which POTUS sees himself as a purveyor of freedom.

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