Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Christopher Buckley”

Merchants of Doubt

It’s numbingly cold outside. What does a frustrated activist need to do to stay warm? How about reading a book that’s going to get the blood coursing through the body, while remaining wrapped in a blanket on the sofa drinking hot chocolate?

Merchants of Doubt does just that. This is a book of highly educated and venerated scientists who fail to adhere to the need to improve society though research and hypothesis. It is a stunningly detailed account of how they have prostituted their knowledge to advance lies and myths that will ultimately harm the individual and society, all in the name of making money for themselves and the masters they serve.

Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway do a great job tracking eminent physicists and other scientists who are able to manipulate the truth. One stunning realization that I took from this is that their “truths” are perpetuated by harried journalist and opinionated bloggers. DON’T READ BLOGS! Here I said it – and you can believe me ’cause I blog everyday .

Seriously, this book has garnered tremendous respect. I think that it says a lot for their research when they unabashedly name names and have not found themselves in court. It might be a book to delve into from time-to-time rather than consumed in one sitting, but Oreskes and Conway have done us a great service. To quote Former Vice President, Al Gore:

“Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have demonstrated what many of us have long suspected: that the ‘debate’ over the climate crisis–and many other environmental issues–was manufactured by the same people who brought you ‘safe’ cigarettes.  Anyone concerned about the state of democracy in America should read this book.”

I think, Mr. Gore, that it is far beyond the democracy of the US. This inconvenient truth is a global issue.

Another book that illustrates this so clearly is Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley. While he does clearly state that this is a novel, he hits many of the points that Merchants of Doubt proves. He also has you laughing rather than seeking the next spaceship off of the planet.

“Buckley’s caricatures of Washington politics, corporate power plays, media spin control, Hollywood pretensions and the human foibles of self-delusion and denial are appallingly right on the money.” –San Francisco Chronicle.

See what I mean?
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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

Synopsis – request feedback

These are exciting times. As mentioned in my last blog, I will submit my new manuscript to the first of two contests over the weekend. I would appreciate any feedback to the synopsis which I have pasted below. Feel free to critique in the comments below or by email to alshalev at bigfoot dotcom.

It is also exciting to see that people are picking up Oilspill dotcom in its e-book format from both Smashwords and Scribd. The world of e-book is accelerating and I am so happy to be part of this wave. If you have read the book, please post a review on these sites and also Goodreads if you hang out there.

To all who follow my blog and my progress as an author – Happy New Year – I appreciate all your support and encouragement.
Alon
http://www.alonshalev.com/

Unwanted Heroes (80,000 words)

Unwanted Heroes (80,000 words)

Good coffee, vintage wine and the magic of San Francisco bring together an elderly, battle weary Chinese American war vet and an idealistic and pretentious young Englishman. But when repressed memories suddenly surface, they discover a more dangerous commonality where the key to release for each of them lies in an unlikely partnership.

Will Taylor finds employment as a barista at The Daily Grind in the Financial District of San Francisco and is inspired to write his breakout novel. Walking the streets of Kerouac and Ginsberg, Taylor discovers a beautiful city and cutting edge culture alongside the harsh underbelly of American society.

When his boss suddenly disappears, Will unravels an injustice he must try and help rectify before he loses his friends, his sanity and love. He needs all the help he can find and all the allies he can muster. A homeless professor, precariously balanced between intellectual pinnacles and mental abyss, offers advice and contacts. Taylor’s Goth girlfriend initiates him into the West Coast counter culture, while her Nob Hill father digs up his own military nightmares to help another haunted soldier in desperate straits.

The unique culture of San Francisco lends itself to the comical aspects of the novel, offset in a rollercoaster of emotions where comic follows tragic. When Will meets his Goth girlfriend’s parents for dinner at their home on Nob Hill, the only conversation piece he can offer is teaching them to toast in twelve languages. In the ensuing abrupt scene change, he is frantically searching a military graveyard at night, looking for his boss who has suddenly disappeared without his medication.

Unwanted Heroes confronts the issue of homelessness and, in particular, American war veterans who could never readjust into society. This novel is a tribute to a beautiful, unique and quirky city and its people, and yet highlights those who sacrificed so much to keep it and America free.

As such, Unwanted Heroes fits into a genre of novels written by authors who want to effect change in the world. Erin Brockovich, The Rainmaker, A Civil Action and The Appeal, are comparable works in this respect. In addition, the humorous scenes reflect the influence of Christopher Buckley and Christopher Moore.

But above all, Unwanted Heroes is a story of injustice, friendship and romance, as seen through the eyes of a struggling young writer from across the Atlantic, who brings more baggage than just his shiny laptop and romantic ideals.

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