American Zeroes received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.
Following find an interview with author John DiFelice.
What is the name of the book and when was it published?
American Zeroes, published July 2016.
What’s the book’s first line?
Who is Drunk John?
What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.
The book is a satire about the American Far Right as embodied by the character of Jeremiah Stumpf. Jeremiah is certain of two things: he loves his country, and his next door neighbors are terrorists. Between counting and recounting his cache of gold and silver coins, cleaning his assault weapons, stalking the waitress who works at the Big Jugs across the street, and emailing Paul Ronsen, his Libertarian superhero, Jeremiah devises a plan to deal with his neighbors and become the hero no one told him he should be.
On a deeper level, the book is about models and frameworks. Models are the things that have supposed predictive power about our world (e.g. economic models), and the frameworks are the philosophical foundations from which they spring. American Zeroes is a story in which there is constant conflict between the model predictions (the way the world should be) and the way the world is. Jeremiah possesses a warped, romantic notion of an America that does not exist except in his own head. This notion was shaped in part by his upbringing as a Christian. With the collapse of his Christian faith, he was susceptible to his roommate Justin who peddles a twisted version of Objectivism in all its glorious selfishness.
One of the questions American Zeroes explores is “how does a person become self-radicalized?” We always hear the term directed at Muslims and Islamic radical terrorists, but what of the self-radicalization of Christians? It is said that Muslim terrorists practice a distorted version of Islam. But what of Christians who were taught since early childhood to love their neighbor and forgive above all else, who then as adults are consumed by hatred and violence? This book tries to answer this question.
What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?
I started writing American Zeroes shortly after the 2010 Congressional victories of the Tea Party Republicans. I saw that event as a major turning point in American politics (for the worse), and a major victory for the anti-intellectual movement in this country. Donald Trump is merely the logical conclusion to what started in that Congressional election six years ago.
Guns and gun laws are another big part of the story, and it also ties into the anti-intellectual movement. The Gun Lobby would have you believe that the very first thing a would-be dictator or tyrant would do is to take away everyone’s guns, and that is why we should never pass gun laws. They always point to Hitler or Stalin as examples of this. But if you look at those two examples, you see this is not true. The very first thing that dictators do is to round up and imprison, expel, or execute all the intellectuals.
What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?
A person should read this book if he or she likes satire, absurdist fiction, politics, and philosophy. It also moves at a pretty good clip and is funny, or so I’ve been told.