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Off the Reservation: A Novel Paperback – November 21, 2014
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From Kirkus Reviews
Kirkus' Indie Books of the Month Selection (May, 2015)
"On the verge of retirement, a straight-talking U.S. congressman campaigns for president in this fast-paced, wryly comic, and vastly satisfying political satire.
Just weeks after announcing he wouldn’t be seeking re-election, Congressman Evan Gorgoni of Indiana finds himself thrust back into the national spotlight after his frank and defeatist appearance on Meet The Press. “Truth is…there are too many people in the world,” he says. “If civilization keeps procreating this way, we’re doomed.” Refreshed by his realist approach, the media starts floating his name for a presidential bid. The Democratic senator ignores the hype—he’s enjoying retirement—until meeting his would-be contenders. “If I don’t run,” he tells Monty Berg, his quick-witted campaign manager, “the country’s going to choose between another cynical tax-cutter, and Nate Poston. Who has never met a question he couldn’t dodge.” With the help of Monty, he wins the Democratic primary and spends the rest of Merzer’s electrifying debut novel running against his Republican opponent, Gov. Malcolm Benneton, on a loose platform of population control and environmental sustainability. Refusing to prepare speeches, Gorgoni eschews grand promises and often loses himself in tangents. “My fellow Americans, I say to you with deep conviction in my soul, let us do away, totally, irreversibly, and permanently, with the leaf blower,” he says during his acceptance speech. Using real names of contemporary figures and writing with a keen eye for the absurdities of the American political system, Merzer offers a story of brash realism in an age of congressional gridlock. While most left-leaning readers will cheer for Gorgoni, many conservatives will likely find the novel dismissive of their ideology. Nevertheless, the author writes with a steady pen, and he rarely misses the opportunity for a joke. Whatever their politics, readers will chuckle at this systemwide sendup.
A witty, winking political novel sure to satisfy liberals in an age of extreme partisanship." --Kirkus Reviews (Starred review)
"Our Favorite Books of 2015” (December-January, 2015-2016) In Glen Merzer’s novel Off the Reservation (Vivid Thoughts Press), Indiana Congressman Evan Gorgoni collapses in a parking lot, and an epiphany compels him to get the hell out of Washington. He goes on Meet the Press toexplain in blunt and unvarnished detail the reasons for his departure. The eight-term Democrat is amazed to hear from one of his precocious daughters that he has become an Internet sensation and eventually allows himself to be drafted into a presidential run. That’s when this keen, whimsical novel really takes off, as Merzer guides us through a sardonic roller-coaster ride of a campaign seen through the eyes of a truth-telling vegan idealist who makes Bernie Sanders look positively plastic. And there are recipes.” The Progressive
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In December, amazon’s algorithm decided that I should buy Off The Reservation. I made the purchase only to support Mr. Merzer. As a stereotypical entrepreneur who reads everything I can get my hands on as a way to collect factual information, I did not intend to waste my energy reading this novel. Time away from my precious research is time wasted in my opinion.
One evening late in December, I actually decided to take a break from my precious research. I opened Reservation and started reading only to put it down a couple of hours later. I finished it the following night. Mr. Merzer, that was great fun!
It isn’t my desire to get into the details pertaining to Reservation’s relevance for character development or political satire, it is my desire to say congratulations to Mr. Merzer for being the author of the one and only novel to reside permanently inside my Kindle. I’ll conclude by urging Mr. Merzer to give Evan Gorgoni the opportunity to prove his mettle as the leader of the free world. I'd rather work than be entertained, but I'll buy and enjoy anything written by Glen Merzer.
Hell, I wish everyone who cares about our country's political system, and how it's been corrupted by bought-and-paid-for politicians, and especially cynical political news reporters, would read "Off the Reservation."
In the book, Congressman Evan Gorgoni is retiring because, like most Americans, he is fed up with Beltway politics and the influence of money in our electoral system. He can't get anything done because of partisanship and fellow politicians who owe political favors to those who got them elected – the people with big money. But Evan goes "off the reservation" and tells the truth on a national news talk show - something politicians don't often do. He admits he can't solve all the country's problems, and there's groundswell support for him to run for President. Simply because he's honest, and refuses to play the game any longer.
From there it's just a crazy romp on the Presidential campaign trial. This book must be a good read for political reporters, who hold their tongue as politicians lie to them daily. Reporters know they are being lied to even as they dutifully report it.
Largely, the book is fun as it takes pot shots at our nation's ills, from our absurd drug and defense policies to our obsession on how to buy health insurance rather than finding ways to keep people well.
Our always honest-to-a-fault hero candidate even takes deserved potshots at those "infernal" leaf blowers. Bravo. It's about time someone takes those things to task.