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Jokerman 8by Richard Melo
Synopses & Reviews
Jokerman 8 is a rockin, rollin wild-eyed journey through the American eco-saboteur movement, and a restless multi-stranded narrative about two pasts that can never be reconstituted: happy childhoods and forests.
A west coast posse of forest radicals based out of San Francisco State University, Jokerman engages in a wild array of pranks — they sink whaling ships at harbor in Iceland, skydive into the winter forest of British Columbia on a bend to save a pack of wolves from a government-sponsored slaughter, and stage a Tree-In in a southern Oregon old-growth forest. Jokerman spikes trees, jerryrigs tractors, spoils traps, and conserves enough energy to laugh and drink beer at the end of the day.
In numerous subplots encompassing both present and past, a young husband flees San Francisco for Portland during the Draft, another young husband sets himself on fire in front of what he thinks is Robert MacNamara?s office in the Pentagon, and the Yippies succeed in levitating the Pentagon, inspiring the Jokerman Eight to respond by building a pyramid next to the Pentagon.
Written in a polyphonous prose where every tendency is contrapuntal to another 7#151; rollicking yet meditative, whirlwind yet lax, lush yet stark, ghostly yet grounded, complex yet accessible — the novel bears comparison to Edward Abbey's 1975 cult eco-classic The Monkey Wrench Gang and can best be summed up by its final (and shortest) sentence: "Live happy." Jokerman 8 is about laughing more and taking the world less seriously; about learning to swim and fly; about following gentle impulses; about not sitting still while Earth?s flora and fauna are shaved, poisoned, and burned off the planet's surface; and about daughters and sons learning what it is they are about.
"Written with love for all of us babies blinking in the silent home movies of the 60s and 70s, Jokerman 8 reminds us of who we meant to be and how we intended to live in this wack-ass world." Ariel Gore, author of Atlas of the Human Heart
"Like the Dylan songbook its title invokes, Jokerman 8 is freewheeling and deeply felt, moving and cymbal-crashing funny. It is also that rarity: an angry, politically-minded work of exuberant high spirits. A great first novel." Andrew Lewis Conn, author of P: The Novel
Jokerman 8 is a posse of forest radicals based out of San Francisco State University that engages in a series of demonstrations and stunts to protest environmental destruction: they sink whaling ships in Iceland and stage a "tree-in" in southern Oregon, then party to let off steam. Along the way, numerous subplots merge the past (1960s) with the present (1990s): a young man tries to escape the draft, and yippies succeed in levitating the Pentagon. Challenging and irreverent, the text moves at a breakneck pace, stopping just long enough to question how the world got the way it is and how it might be fixed.
Challenging and irreverent, this story of a posse of forest radicals that engages in demonstrations and stunts to protest environmental destruction moves at a breakneck pace, stopping just long enough to question how the world might be fixed.
About the Author
Born in San Francisco in 1968 and reared in Oregon, Richard Emidio Melo attended Gresham High School and San Francisco State University. He spent two years performing environmental service with AmeriCorps, the domestic Peace Corps during the middle 1990s. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his daughter. His writing is forthcoming in The Believer and in the Gobshite Quarterly.
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