Friday, September 2, 2011
"The Last American Martyr", a poignant, gripping tale that you won't be able to put down or forget
If you enjoy a well-told story that sucks you in, grabs you by the heart strings and has you holding your breath and gripping the armrests of the chair you’re sitting on, The Last American Martyr gives you all of that and more as the protagonist flees across America trying to evade those who want to kill him. In one particularly hair-raising scene, he drives into a huge Texas tornado hoping to hide under an overpass that was so real I could hear the roaring of the storm.
How did he get himself into such a mess? “Had I, an unemployed doorman, never written that book, my life wouldn’t have taken such a harrowing turn. Had it not sold so well I wouldn’t have needed to be on the lam like I have for so many months now. But I did write my book, and I’ll pay for that until the last shovel of cold dirt is dumped over my grave. ... On the other side of the coin, the words I strung together did have at least one positive effect. They seem to have broadened the ... world’s perception of selfishness and greed.” And enraged those who felt threatened by it and set out to kill him.
The story opens with a hermit named Darius McClure which, it turns out, isn’t his real name. His real name is Thomas Soles, Vietnam veteran and the author of the book in question. What was his crime? Telling his readers why their jobs have vanished, their dreams dashed, and who is responsible. (Think this is pure fiction? It isn't. A blogger I follow recently published an article suggesting that billionaire's ought to pay higher taxes. One of his readers called him "scum" and unsubscribed his posts.)
When Tom and his wife return to New York City from Oslo, Norway where he’s received a Nobel Prize in Literature, then find a grisly mess in their apartment. It gets worse from there as they set out across country trying to evade the posse, his wife is killed in a “hunting accident”, and Tom ends up as a hermit named Darius McClure living in a trailer home outside of tiny White Pine, Maine. Or does he end up there? That question still has me smiling. I think the answer is pure writing genius.
Tom Winton is one of the finest new writers of popular fiction on the market. His debut novel, Beyond Nostalgia, is one of my favorite novels. In my opinion, he’s one of the best.
A definite ***** read.