William Wall’s AMERICAN DREAMING: The Odyssey of “Yew” is an ambitious political satire which takes shots at a dystopian United States’ failed democracy, a healthcare system which is run on profit, wars which are fought for cash, and everything in between. We follow idealistic Ulysses Endymion Wynn, also known as Yew, as he journeys around the globe with the unscrupulous Max in a flying machine called The American Dream, a hot-air balloon with a supersonic-capable stealth gondola, and learns about the reality of the world which is designed to benefit the few and crush the many.
The book is absolutely hilarious in places, dominated by characters such as a Trump-like Ultraright President Brand, nicknamed The Brander, whose position when asked in a political debate whether children should have to pledge allegiance is that “Everybody should recite the Pledge, and not simply ‘under God’ but as well ‘under the Brander’s overlording’.” A corrupt and oversexed Right Reverend Geldcross is our other villain – and Church and State are linked in every way. The pace of the book is fast and often dizzying. Our protagonist, Yew, is the everyman, designed to give the reaction that all reasonable people would upon learning that he needs to give up one of his kidneys because he is uninsured or that almost all military conflicts are overseen by corrupt generals who play both sides. There are elements of fantasy here too: American Dream can fly at WARP speed and Yew survives more than any ordinary human, including becoming temporarily red, white and blue–American-flag style–after eating some raw genetically-modified corn.
Wall is incredibly inventive with language and plays with acronyms and puns throughout to great effect. Literary allusion also adds weight and often appears in unexpected places. This is clearly a talented writer who does not dumb down his message for the reader, who he expects to be his intellectual equal. Where the book lacks clarity is in its sheer sprawl and scope. Clearly, Wall wants to examine a full cross-section of American society but occasionally this leads to repetition, especially in long speeches given by principal characters. The book is at its strongest when Yew encounters a “truth” of how things are and reacts accordingly. Wall could have added a few more compelling female characters too, but perhaps that’s indicative of the reality of this dystopian-but-not-really epic tale. Overall, it’s an enjoyable read, but careful editing could have made it more powerful.
William Wall’s epic political satire AMERICAN DREAMING: The Odyssey of “Yew”, showcases the dangers of corporate greed and capitalism without a safety net with lots of laughs along the way – but it could have done with a tighter edit to make its point more succinctly.
~Amy Arora for IndieReader