Leading character, Hamlet, 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,” according to one book review. Continue reading
Victoria N Alexander will be signing copies of Locus Amoenus at the Book Bower on Friday in the midst of the Middletown Fireworks Festival, which will take place 4-10PM, near the main street market. Come out to express your inner patriot and pick up copy of Alexander’s scathing satire on runaway American consumerism and political corruption.
In this dark comedy, a 9/11 widow, Gertrude, and her son, Hamlet, move from Brooklyn to the pastoral countryside to start a sustainable farm. Unfortunately, they don’t really get along all that well with the outrageously obese locals, who prefer the starchy products of industrial agriculture. Hamlet has just turned 18, and he’s beginning to suspect that something is rotten in the United States of America: health, happiness and freedom are traded for Walmart, endless war, Zoloft, and environmental degradation. He becomes very depressed when, on the 8th anniversary of his father’s death, Gertrude marries, a horrid, boring bureaucrat named Claudius, who works for NIST. Then, Hamlet learns from Horatio, a conspiracy theorist, that Claudius is a fraud. The tricks, spying, corruption, and uncertainty end, as Shakespeare’s play does, in tragedy
Kevin is such an interesting and intelligent person to talk with. In the course of the hour-long interview, I was drawn into mentioning a thing or two about my favorite philosopher C.S. Peirce in relation to the plot of one of Pynchon’s earlier conspiracy novels, The Crying of Lot 49. Years ago I wrote about Pynchon and the link between teleology and conspiracy theory, here. We went on about Noam Chomsky’s ridiculously unscientific, because unfalsifiable, “theory” of universal grammar. (Chomsky has sent some hate Kevin’s way because Kevin has said that sometimes some people in or associated with the U.S. government some times to do corrupt things.) With his semiotic theory, my favorite philosopher (uh oh, Peirce again) explains the emergence of grammar much better than Noam. (Terrence Deacon provides a good slap down of Chomsky in The Symbolic Species.) And yes, we did talk about Locus Amoenus too, as well as Tom Breidenbach’s book of poems Wicked Child/IX XI. Tom, a mutual friend, was the initial inspiration for the Horatio character in my novel.
The interview is now archived online here: http://noliesradio.org/archives/99840
The wonderful tiny library in the hamlet of Amenia will be hosting a book signing for Locus Amoenus, the story about Hamlet, set in Amenia. There will also be a book fair (with used books) and bake sale to raise money for the library. The Presbyterian Church behind the library will be hosting its annual strawberry fair in conjunction with the book fair. This time I won’t be sharing my book table with a celebrity author like last week in Millbrook. I will be sharing my table with muffins and scones baked by some of Amenia’s baking masters.
Please come out and support the library, which has been the heart of our life in Amenia for these last twelve years. Lucian got his library card when he was a week old. And the librarian, Mrs. Devine, was the first friend I made in the hamlet.
All proceeds from book sales to benefit the library. Unfortunately, I will only have a handful of preview copies available for sale. Last week the publisher let me know that the hardcover release has been delayed again for another week. Books ship on the 14th or so. But the Kindle and Nook versions have been released ahead of the hardcover.
Friends who have already read the preview copy of Locus Amoenus can now post reviews on Amazon. Please do so! For more info about the book go to http://amzn.to/1JwwkmO Get the Kindle version today or pre-order the hardcover at a big discount.
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.
Harlem Valley News May 11, 2015 Local author, Victoria N. Alexander has a new novel coming out on June 12th called Locus Amoenus—set in Amenia and the Harlem Valley region Amenia, NY. The hero of Victoria N. Alexander’s novel Locus Amoenus may be the new Holden Caulfield for the post-9/11 generation, according to Kirkus Reviews. In Alexander’s witty but dark political satire, a 9/11 widow and her son, Hamlet, move to beautiful Amenia in upstate New York where they run a sustainable farm—but Hamlet becomes depressed when, on the 8th anniversary of his father’s death, his mother remarries a boring bureaucrat named Claudius. Then Hamlet learns from Horatio, conspiracy theorist, that Claudius is a fraud and something is rotten in the United States of America. With extraordinary gallows humor, Alexander looks at the tragedy that is contemporary politics, as it plays out in any town America where health, happiness and freedom have been traded for cheap Walmart goods, Paxil, environmental degradation, and endless war. Continue reading
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