The new novel by Victoria N. Alexander, Locus Amoenus, is a delight to read. It weaves an important modern-day tale while following the outline of William Shakespeare’s enduring tragedy, Hamlet. The Bard’s tale of Hamlet is a personal and community tragedy placed in a historical period in which the fight over the control of Hamlet’s native country ultimately leads to its subjugation to a foreign country. The characters woven into the Locus Amoenus story are no less tragic than Shakespeare’s, and the reader is left wondering just how the world of Alexander’s characters could have avoided being seduced into a current-day form of subjugation when the curtain comes down. Throughout her witty narrative, the author’s wry humor adds levity to her tale of today’s Hamlet. Continue reading
Dallas-born author, Victoria N. Alexander, Dallas Observer‘s “best locally-produced literary figure” will be talking with INN World Report’s Tom Kiely, about her new 9/11 political satire novel, Locus Amoenus, and her Austin appearance Nov 27 at Brave New Books
Live Interview 6:30PM CST
Call in to speak on the air live at 512 646-1984
Locus Amoenus synopsis: In this dark comedy, a 9/11 widow and her son, Hamlet, have retreated from Brooklyn to the idyllic rural countryside upstate, where for nearly eight years they have run a sustainable farm. Unfortunately their outrageously obese neighbors, who prefer the starchy products of industrial agriculture, shun their elitist ways (recycling, eating healthy, reading). Hamlet, who is now 18, is beginning to suspect that something is rotten in the United States of America, when health, happiness and freedom are traded for cheap Walmart goods, Paxil, endless war, standard curriculum, and environmental degradation. He becomes very depressed when, on the very day of the 8th anniversary of his father’s death, his mother marries a horrid, boring bureaucrat named Claudius. Things get even more depressing for Hamlet when his friend Horatio, a conspiracy theorist, claims Claudius is a fraud. The deceptions, spying, corruption, will ultimately lead, as in Shakespeare’s play, to tragedy.
Radio program archived at: http://mp3.logosradionetwork.com/INN/64k/INN_Radio_2015-11-24_64k.mp3 start at 0:34:00
In Locus Amoenus, a 9/11 widow remarries and her son, Hamlet, learns from Horatio, a conspiracy theorist, that something is rotten in the United States of America.
Now archived at http://www.awakeninglibertyshow.com/show-archives/
Interview starts at 9:55. Here’s a snippet:
AS: “What do you want people to get from this book?”
VNA: “Well, in the passage I just read where Hamlet [a conspiracy theorist] makes his big revelation. He makes some very logical points and asks some very good questions. But what’s the response to that? Evasion. Nobody really takes the point [chuckle]. Nobody really gets what he’s getting at. The whole thing is kind of ineffective, really [chuckle].
“One of the things I wanted to do for people, who have tried to talk to friends about some evidence they’ve read, is to give them a story that they can relate to. We’ve all gone through this. We all know what it’s like to bring up this conversation at dinner and have very good our friends treat us very coldly.
“And I wanted to give the conspiracy theorist a place in literature. He is a very important character, as was [Shakespeare’s] Hamlet, for really defining who the modern man is. Continue reading
On Saturday, July 18th I’ll be at the NorthEast-Millerton Library at 1PM. Pick up a copy of Locus Amoenus at Oblong Books to bring with you to have signed. Here’s a piece from the June issue of Main Street Magazine.
WBAI 99.5 FM with host Barry Seidman
Developing a Progressive Narrative
As many may already know, science fiction and speculative fiction in general can investigate and articulate the state of our nation and/or world in very direct but also metaphorical ways. We have talked about Star Trek, for instance, on Equal Time and how Gene Roddenberry was able to discuss humanism and naturalism via the small and large screen. And there have been many novels and short stories since at least the late 19th Century which have done the same.
Victoria N Alexander and Adrienne Maree Brown are two authors who have relatively new speculative fiction books out. Victoria, who has a PhD in English and philosophy of science, is also a novelist and the founder of Dactyl, a foundation that fosters dialogue between artists and scientists. She is the author of several novels including the topic of today’s discussion, Locus Amoenus. The novel brings Shakespeare into the post-9/11 world we currently experience and sows an emotionally powerful geopolitical drama.
Adrienne Maree Brown is an author, a life/love work coach, a singer (including wedding singer), events facilitator and a scholar on the late Science Fiction novelist Octavia Butler. In Octavia’s Brood, Adrienne has co-edited a collection of both speculative and science fiction stories founded on the spirit and creativity of the late author.
Tune in, pay if forward, and question everything
Victoria Alexander’s Honest Look at American Culture
In much the same way that James Joyce used Homer’s Odyssey to create a classical stage set for the characters of Ulysses in the dear dirty Dublin in 1904, V. N. Alexander’s new novel uses Shakespeare’s Hamlet as an archetypal structure that casts a shadow over the stereotypes of our new American life of junk food, junk politics, and NSA/Homeland Security.
Like the tight narrative and focused attention of Thomas Pynchon’s shortest novel, The Crying of Lot 49, Locus Amoenus uses hilarity and conspiracy theories to present the tragicomedy of a contemporary America that is beyond belief. Alexander has a good ear for prose rhythms, and the uplifting wave of her prose style picks you up and carries you all the way to her Coda—a coda that reminds us as her story becomes framed in journalistic reporting that American History is a dumpster and not an Akashic Record backing up karmic justice. From Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase that made Manifest Destiny and the American Empire inevitable to Jackson’s Cherokee Trail of Tears to Lincoln’s suspension of Habeas Corpus to FDR’s Day of Deceit with Pearl Harbor to Wolfowitz’s and the Neocons’ call for a new Pearl Harbor that became 9/11 to Obama’s National Defense Authorization Act and Arctic Drilling for the oil companies, the United States has always been bad while believing itself to be good.
Alexander is truly humorous in a bittersweet way that never becomes nihilistic. Everyone notices European Evil, whether it is the case of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror or Hitler’s Holocaust, but no one noticed when Obama shredded the Constitution of Madison and Jay in the National Defense Authorization Act, and no one noticed when the One Percent bought out the country in a hostile takeover brokered by Goldman Sachs.
Locus Amoenus is an important contribution to contemporary American fiction, and perhaps it is time now for Alexander to move up from the small arty presses to the major publishing houses in Manhattan. (Farrar Strauss take note.) But, on the other hand, since the large publishing companies now are all owned by the giant corporate conglomerates who produce our junk food for the mind, we should celebrate the contribution of The Permanent Press of Sag Harbor for being, like the Farmers Market in Union Square and the Berkshares local currency of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a healthy alternative to airport fiction.
Get your copy now while Amazon is offering a 21 percent discount. The hardcover of Locus Amoenus will be in stores June 12th. Click on jacket image to enlarge.
Book Review: Locus Amoenus
by Tonia Shoumatoff
When Victoria Alexander moved up to Amenia from Soho is 2003, she got the vibe that people thought she was a city person (a ‘citiot’ as she says in her novel) and that the locals did not think much of her. “They don’t like outsiders here,” she was told by her first friend, an older woman who has lived in Amenia for forty years. Continue reading
Alexander’s newest novel Locus Amoenus (Permanent Press, 192 pages) finds Hamlet taking place in rural America against the backdrop of 9/11 and the Iraq War. “Something is rotten in the United States of America.” So says Alexander’s narrator, a young man named Hamlet. After his father dies on 9/11, Hamlet and his mother, Gertrude, move to upstate New York, where they maintain a farm. After several years, Gertrude meets Claudius, a bureaucrat and scientist who contributed to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s World Trade Center report. Yes, this is Hamlet reimagined as a truther, and in this retelling of Shakespeare’s tragedy, the protagonist isn’t just feigning madness—he’s genuinely losing his mind.
Locus Amœnus is now available on Amazon.