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The Bull Paperback – April 20, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

In this briskly paced political drama set in Alabama, one man plays David to the corrupt local government's Goliath. Frank Standish is a local hero, a retired race car driver and owner of a popular local bar, The Bull. Increasingly frustrated with Mayor Cornelius' disregard for the rule of law and his overbearingly paternalistic desire to addle Fulton Springs with endlessly intrusive regulations, he finally decides to take a stand and challenge Cornelius in the next election. Much of the narrative recounts Frank's steadfast resistance to Cornelius' attempts to strengthen his grip on political power, as the incumbent aggrandizes his position at the expense of those he cynically purports to represent. A political neophyte, Frank not only battles against an entrenched, amoral administration, but also against the town's accumulated lethargy, increased by years of mistreatment. The recognizable and predictable crux of the story never loses its speedy stride ... Weber runs up and down the bandwidth of small-government advocacy: eminent domain abuse, gun control, encroachments of the environmental lobby, nanny state proscriptions (the mayor bans the use of salt), campaign finance corruption and even the legalization of marijuana. Top marks for sheer thoroughness, but readers might tire of the incessant evangelizing. An upbeat, breezy read ... could just as easily be a treatise on the virtues of limited government.

Review

Nowadays politicians seem to work more for their own interests than those of the voters. Taxes climb, special interests bribe, small businesses die and the American dream that once glittered has gone dim. Government is now threatening our rights to smoke, eat certain foods and drink sugary sodas.

Well, maybe not everyone wants to live to see 100, especially if it means giving up the very foods, luxuries and liberties that make life worth living. That's the thesis of Matthew Weber's new novel, "The Bull," the story of a small Alabama city held hostage by a mayor and his system of "Good Old Boy" politics. That man's name is [Davenport] Cornelius, a former minister on a power trip who sells out his trusting citizens to rake in money for himself and his comrades. Frank Standish, owner of the town's favorite barbecue joint, "The Bull," has had enough. With the help of his family, patrons and the local radio DJ, he launches a grassroots campaign to end Cornelius's reign and shatter the learned helplessness paralyzing the town.

The tension between the proud, independent citizens and the dominating fat cats is established from the first sentence of the novel: "One thing about people from the South ... they do not like being told what to do." Fast-moving and provocative, "The Bull" also stands as a relevant critique of the times, an era when nanny-state politics are chipping away at the individual's pursuit of happiness. A living monument to modern political contamination, Cornelius is an infuriating villain. As the protagonist, Standish is also well developed as a local racing legend dedicated to humbly serving the very people who used to idolize him.

At its heart, however, Weber's book is about bullying. "The Bull" illustrates the empowerment of standing up for oneself and one's people against whatever or whomever is pushing them around. Sooner or later the bully has to face the music. (-W. Buchheit, "Boiling Springs Sentry" South Carolina)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Pint Bottle Press (April 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098545900X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985459000
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,962,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Matthew Weber writes horror stories, political novels and home-improvement books. He's author of A DARK & WINDING ROAD (collected short horror fiction, 2014) and THE BULL (satirical political novel, 2012). His short stories have appeared in such anthologies as BEST OF DARK ECLIPSE, GHOSTS: REVENGE, CREATURE STEW and more. He is an affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association and makes his living as editor-in-chief (and principal writer) of EXTREME HOW-TO home improvement magazine. Weber lives in central Alabama with his wife, two sons and canine companion. Check out his website at www.pintbottlepress.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Linda Douglas on May 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This may not be considered a literary masterpiece, but it so resonates with my struggles with a small town mayor with an over-sized ego.

[...]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marina Fontaine on May 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This book very nicely accomplishes what it set out to do, namely personalize the cost of big government and show how regular citizens can make a difference. Because of the setup where the main plotline is the mayoral campaign, the characters can actually discuss issues at length as natural part of the story instead of squeezing political points artificially into random scenes. The town mayor is a colorful villain, a combination of the President from David Mamet's November, NYC mayor Bloomberg, and a corrupt tele-evangelist whose name escapes me at the moment. The rest of the characters are less over-the-top and more real, and sometimes the writer falls victim to his own good writing, where the reader wants to skip through the politics and get to know these people better. (There are a couple of characters fully deserving of a spin-off.) However, making us love these everyday heroes is how the book drives the political points home: the government's overreach hurts real people in uncountable ways, and someone needs to stand up for them.

Some conservatives may be put off by the villain being a Baptist minister. I admit I was suspicious since it's such a liberal stereotype. As a whole, though, the story is very clear in its portrait of a man who uses every trick at his disposal to increase his power, and religion for him is just a tool he uses on an as-needed basis. Therefore, I recommend this book wholeheartedly to any lover of freedom, no matter where they are on the political, or religious, spectrum.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lauren on May 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
Frank Standish wants one thing, to run his local BBQ joint/bar in peace. But more and more regulation by the local government is making that increasingly difficult. In fact, the city's regulations are starting to frustrate the day-to-day living of ordinary citizens. Finally, something must be done. The Bull is an excellent read about how friends and neighbors come together to take back their town from the corrupt local government. Fulton Springs, Alabama could be any town in America. As you read, the characters easily become your friends, your neighbors, your hairdresser and, of course, your bartender. The author's writing is so relatable it's like you're sitting at the bar hearing the story from your own best friend. I highly recommend this book to everyone. You will not be disappointed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Statman74 on July 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
I am a fiscal conservative, but much more liberal and progressive when it comes to social issues. In other words, I like limited government, a balanced budget, and less entitlements, but I don't believe contraception is a sin nor do I believe gay marriage causes hurricanes. The Bull very much reflects this type of balance in its tone and content which is part of what made it such an enjoyable read.

Frank Standish, the protagonist of the story, is the owner of a bar/restaurant called The Bull. He is constantly having to deal with his local government setting restrictions on things like salt content, alcohol selling hours, and gun ownership. Things eventually come to a head when he decides to challenge the encumbent mayor in the next election. Freedom versus safety.

The theme is nothing new. Ayn Rand devoted thousands of pages to telling such tales, but Weber's work is much less verbose and pompous. Plus, he adds a certain down to earth quality to his characters that make them easier to identify with and relate to. To be sure, like Rand, Weber sets up certain characters as straw men to make his point and of course the complexity of the real world often makes freedom vs. safety issues more difficult to navigate, but this literary tack goes all the way back to Plato's Republic and doesn't diminish the book's mission.

I also like the fact that there is no social hatred of any kind in The Bull. Oftentimes, conservative fiscal philosophy gets coupled with social conservatism and social conservatives love moralizing on what lifestyles are "good" and "bad." Weber finds social regulation just as deleterious as fiscal regulation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By robert stanley on May 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
"One thing about people from the South... They do not like being told what to do." So begins this good, fast-reading Southern novel - the first novel from the editor of a national magazine. It's Southern, yes, but don't look for rednecks or bigots or exaggerated dialect. Even though we enjoy a distinct Southern flavor, the plot and characters can be found in small towns across the country. This novel places a hard-working small-town business owner at odds with his local government who cowers to campaign-contributing special interests and places increasing restrictions on area businesses. But Frank Standish decides to fight back. Frank becomes a reluctant player in local politics as he, his family, and his friends at his local bar and grill (The Bull) work to unseat the current mayor. This dynamic plays along side a subtler plot in which Frank's son, Derek, deals with the shadows from his own past with the younger generation in the town. The conflict with "slanderous propaganda, corrupt authority, [and] vindictive police" is a fight with which many can identify as we root for Frank and his wish just to be left alone.
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