The Left Left Behind: A Review
January 7th, 2017
Title piece: Visualize all the authoritarian assholes and oligarchs in the world. Poof! They’re gone!
Oh yes, if only it could be true, right? Well, Terry Bisson offers some suggestions about what life might be like if all those folks were Raptured up, up, and away out of our lives.
Need more of this kind of alt-history (Ken MacLeod’s The Human Front is another good example). Too many Nazis/Old South win stories; not enough radical leftists or anarchists smashing the state—or ruling classes just disappearing. Bisson’s lead character is a sleazy TV reporter. He’s joined by a young rebel woman. Honestly wasn’t sure how this would work, but it works well. The Rupture!
“Special Relativity”: one act play with Einstein, Robeson, and Hoover in the context of youth preparing to protest post-9/11. At some points, it reads a bit stilted. Perhaps it’s my lack of culture embodied in a general dislike for drama. The framing, content, and meaning, though, are playful and pretty on target. Best part of Bisson’s play is his ability to envision such events, combine fascinating characters, and pull the story off. While I may not dig this specific example, it drove me to learn more about Robeson. It impressed me to the point of wanting to read Bisson’s novel, Fire on the Mountain. Left me asking: “Who is this guy, and what are his politics and imagination?!” When I later read Rudy Rucker’s essay, “Surfing the Gnarl,” Rucker’s placement of Bisson in the surreal category made complete sense (Surfing the Gnarl, 58).
Interview is terribly interesting. As Bisson is the series editor, it’s not clear if he interviewed himself or if someone else did. Either way, there’s plenty of fascinating information. On a similar note, the interview inspired me to read and research the life of John Brown—a man I had pretty much forgot about for nearly three decades.
Bisson is explicit: you can’t separate his politics from his writing (101). As a reader, Bisson’s writing sparks curiosity and interest so that, frankly, you’ll want to explore the people and ideas he’s presenting or referencing, often in different contexts. If you like authors that open up new vistas and connections, Terry Bisson is for you.