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Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed

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Set in a dystopian near-future, Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed is a novel - a kind of post-capitalist soap opera - about a group of people who regularly attend 'the meetings.' At the meetings they have agreed to talk, and only talk, about how to re-ignite the left, for fear if they were to do more, if they were to actually engage in real acts of resistan Set in a dystopian near-future, Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed is a novel - a kind of post-capitalist soap opera - about a group of people who regularly attend 'the meetings.' At the meetings they have agreed to talk, and only talk, about how to re-ignite the left, for fear if they were to do more, if they were to actually engage in real acts of resistance or activism, they would be arrested, imprisoned, or worse. Revenge Fantasies is a book about community. It is also a book about fear. Characters leave the meetings and we follow them out into their lives. The characters we see most frequently are the Doctor, the Writer and the Third Wheel. As the book progresses we see these characters, and others, disengage and re-engage with questions the meetings have brought into their lives. The Doctor ends up running a reality television show about political activism. The Third Wheel ends up in an unnamed Latin American country, trying to make things better but possibly making them worse. The Writer ends up in jail for writing a book that suggests it is politically emancipatory for teachers to sleep with their students. And throughout all of this the meetings continue: aimless, thoughtful, disturbing, trying to keep a feeling of hope and potential alive in what begin to look like increasingly dark times. Revenge Fantasies asks us to think about why so many of us today, even those with a genuine interest in political questions, feel so deeply powerless to change and affect the world that surrounds us, suggesting that, even within such feelings of relative powerlessness, there can still be energizing surges of emancipation and action.


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Set in a dystopian near-future, Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed is a novel - a kind of post-capitalist soap opera - about a group of people who regularly attend 'the meetings.' At the meetings they have agreed to talk, and only talk, about how to re-ignite the left, for fear if they were to do more, if they were to actually engage in real acts of resistan Set in a dystopian near-future, Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed is a novel - a kind of post-capitalist soap opera - about a group of people who regularly attend 'the meetings.' At the meetings they have agreed to talk, and only talk, about how to re-ignite the left, for fear if they were to do more, if they were to actually engage in real acts of resistance or activism, they would be arrested, imprisoned, or worse. Revenge Fantasies is a book about community. It is also a book about fear. Characters leave the meetings and we follow them out into their lives. The characters we see most frequently are the Doctor, the Writer and the Third Wheel. As the book progresses we see these characters, and others, disengage and re-engage with questions the meetings have brought into their lives. The Doctor ends up running a reality television show about political activism. The Third Wheel ends up in an unnamed Latin American country, trying to make things better but possibly making them worse. The Writer ends up in jail for writing a book that suggests it is politically emancipatory for teachers to sleep with their students. And throughout all of this the meetings continue: aimless, thoughtful, disturbing, trying to keep a feeling of hope and potential alive in what begin to look like increasingly dark times. Revenge Fantasies asks us to think about why so many of us today, even those with a genuine interest in political questions, feel so deeply powerless to change and affect the world that surrounds us, suggesting that, even within such feelings of relative powerlessness, there can still be energizing surges of emancipation and action.

30 review for Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Wren

    . Reviews that can be found on the internet: http://radicalcut.blogspot.ca/2012/01... And an excerpt: http://radicalcut.blogspot.ca/2010/07... . . Reviews that can be found on the internet: http://radicalcut.blogspot.ca/2012/01... And an excerpt: http://radicalcut.blogspot.ca/2010/07... .

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

    Everything Jacob Wren touches and interests me, excites me -- he's both sophisticated and innocent in attitude -- he's a kind of wise old man and open-hearted lover. With his vivacious ideas, word play, and the serious and inane served up on a plate -- Wren lifts my spirits, intellectual and other, because to know he's writing so beautifully in this mad, sad world is a wonderful thing. Everything Jacob Wren touches and interests me, excites me -- he's both sophisticated and innocent in attitude -- he's a kind of wise old man and open-hearted lover. With his vivacious ideas, word play, and the serious and inane served up on a plate -- Wren lifts my spirits, intellectual and other, because to know he's writing so beautifully in this mad, sad world is a wonderful thing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) Rarely does a book come along with a strong academic bent that really blows me away; but man, it sure was the case with Jacob Wren's Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed, the first of several books I recently received from Canadian small publisher Pedlar Press. And that's because Wren manages (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.) Rarely does a book come along with a strong academic bent that really blows me away; but man, it sure was the case with Jacob Wren's Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed, the first of several books I recently received from Canadian small publisher Pedlar Press. And that's because Wren manages to take a situation that would usually only appeal to the professor crowd -- basically, imagine if Julian Assange and Naomi Wolf started dating, and the thousands of NGO tongues that would start waggling because of it -- but then rapidly expands this storyline to quickly reach almost a fairytale-like quality; for example, after their breakup, the Assange character ends up starting a hipster art gallery in a third-world country, then hosting a hit reality show that combines The Apprentice with leftist political activism, then gets picked up by the CIA for impersonating an agent, and a lot more, keeping what would otherwise be a snoozer of a talky tale instead lively in a Michael Chabon kind of way. Now combine this with some of the most beautiful prose I've read in years, plenty of symbolic ridicule concerning the habit of radical liberals to talk problems to death without actually accomplishing anything, and simply a physical look to the manuscript that makes me believe that there's still a future for gorgeous-looking trade paperbacks, and you have what has so far been one of my favorite reads in the last year, and one I predict even eleven months in advance will likely be appearing in CCLaP's best-of lists at the end of the year. It's a true revelation in an industry that no longer sees many of them, and needless to say that I'm now looking highly forward to the other Pedlar titles in my reading list. Out of 10: 9.6

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Bell

    Ok, despite not being a politically aware person - AT ALL - I really enjoyed this. I was hooked immediately. The style of writing is not commercial at all, and I think that's what drew me in. I was curious. Very curious. And it kept me up at night longer than usual because it kept me curious. Ask me what it's about? Um, its hard to summarise in a few short sentences without sounding boring, because it's actually quite stunningly plotless. It's a plotless page turner. That is just genius in my opi Ok, despite not being a politically aware person - AT ALL - I really enjoyed this. I was hooked immediately. The style of writing is not commercial at all, and I think that's what drew me in. I was curious. Very curious. And it kept me up at night longer than usual because it kept me curious. Ask me what it's about? Um, its hard to summarise in a few short sentences without sounding boring, because it's actually quite stunningly plotless. It's a plotless page turner. That is just genius in my opinion. And it's my ideal kind of structure. I love books that break the rules. And another thing that I love about this book is that it psychoanalytically explores its characters. Again, another thing I adore in books, and something I like to do in my own writing, so it's no wonder I enjoyed this. If I hadn't read so many books in my lifetime I probably would have given this five stars. But it's just a little too hard for me to put it up there with my favourites - but it almost is. If only I could add another half a star, I'd be satisfied.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    lifestyle-activism, completely devoid of any actual political contributions painfully long, straight dude menage a trois fantasy i stopped writing when i was twenty for fear of writing something exactly like this it's well-written, but feels like a danielle steele novel for the mustache and doc martin scene lifestyle-activism, completely devoid of any actual political contributions painfully long, straight dude menage a trois fantasy i stopped writing when i was twenty for fear of writing something exactly like this it's well-written, but feels like a danielle steele novel for the mustache and doc martin scene

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tentatively, Convenience

    Once again, I'm going to NOT give a rating. This is often the case in reviews I write of poetry bks & somewhat less often in the case of fiction - wch is what this is. When I don't rate something I read it's usually b/c any rating that I give it will be misleading. If I gave this a 5 star rating I'd be implying that I consider it to be on par w/ Joyce's "Finnegans Wake", eg, wch I don't. If I give it 4 stars it might convey the enthusiasm I had when reading it but still overrate it. It I give it Once again, I'm going to NOT give a rating. This is often the case in reviews I write of poetry bks & somewhat less often in the case of fiction - wch is what this is. When I don't rate something I read it's usually b/c any rating that I give it will be misleading. If I gave this a 5 star rating I'd be implying that I consider it to be on par w/ Joyce's "Finnegans Wake", eg, wch I don't. If I give it 4 stars it might convey the enthusiasm I had when reading it but still overrate it. It I give it 3 stars it wd still be a favorable rating but might be an UNDERrating. SO, no rating - b/c the ratings are inadequately communicative. The author is a GoodReads friend of mine & he regularly sends out promotion for this bk to his GoodReads friends w/ links to an interview w/ him regarding it & probably a review or 2. I read some of this material & became interested b/c his POV is informed by political activism. As such, I asked for a review copy b/c activist culture is a central concern of mine - particularly anarchist culture - wch is NOT what this bk is about even though there're overlaps. Having 'self-declared' as an anarchist around 1969 when I didn't know a single other anarchist, I've been in the interesting position of being able to observe anarchism be considerably revitalized as a socio-political philosophy after what seemed like a long hiatus that followed the severe repression of anarchists around 1930 & the Palmer Raids & the expulsion of non-American-born anarchists, etc.. As I often point out, now anarchists in the US (& Canada) are mostly BORN here & can no longer just be conveniently kicked out of the country. For me, personally, I've observed political activism w/ the most interest when it's been anarchist driven - but certainly not entirely. As novels started to appear apparently written by people directly involved in such activism, I read them both to check out whether I thought any great writers were coming out of this & also to see how the subculture(s) were being fictionalized. Stewart Home's cynical novels come to mind but I don't think Stewart's ever really been an activist so he's mostly irrelevant here. Instead, I think of G. A. Matiasz's "End Time - notes on the apocalypse" - or of J. G. Eccarius' "The Last Days of Christ the Vampire" & "We Should Have Killed the King". I don't know anything about Matiasz's or Eccarius' personal histories but they seem somehow rooted in anarchist or anarcho-punk rebellion. ANYWAY, "Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed" focuses mainly on 3 characters who attend political discussion meetings. 2 of these get involved in a passionate love affair that's temporarily interrupted as one of them goes away for activist service. Shortly before the one returns, the other has a brief affair w/ the 3rd main character. While all 3 characters are immersed in trying to create a more just world, they can't overcome the typical problems of jealousy & they collectively deteriorate as a result. All in all, I was impressed by the writing. This seems like the effort of a youngish writer but hardly a beginner. The writerly strategies of changing unspecified 1st-person narratives & such-like helps propel this & helped keep me engaged. A reference to Italian political thinker Toni Negri on page 63 caught my attn & a section about water on page 73 was a nice diversion. Being the sometimes nit-picky critic that I can be, I was a mite-bit put off by the reference to a "large format 35mm camera" on page 48 - given that if its 35mm it's NOT large format - but I knew what he meant. The plotting is fairly strong - there're spectacles of intrigue & conflict that wd satisfy most readers of adventures not TOO needy of just blood & guts & the descriptions of the meetings wd likely amuse anyone who's ever sat thru too many of these. But what was perhaps the most thought-provoking aspect of reading this (& others of its activist-novel ilk) was the question of: WHAT DO I THINK ABOUT WRITING NOVELS ABOUT POLITICAL ACTIVISM AT ALL? Most of my own political writings are deliberately non-fictional - they don't purport to represent "the whole truth & nothing but the truth" b/c I find such a notion to be highly problematic - but they DO attempt to be accurate & w/ my own opinions & experiences transparently displayed. In other words, I don't purport to believe in 'objectivity' but I do try to not LIE or GLAMORIZE, etc.. - & here's where the problem of fictionalization of activism comes in. I was interested in this B/C it's a fictionalization of an activism that may be somewhat close to the anarchist activism that my own political activities have been primarily connected to. But what I wonder is: does the fictionalization of activism open the gates to people living in fantasy worlds instead of actually BEING activists? I think of things like Arnold Schwarznegger starring in the Philip K. Dick based "Total Recall" - no doubt many an enthusiast of revolution has cheered on Schwarznegger's character in this while paying to see a movie that enriches the coffers of a man whose actual politics are never likely to come anywhere close to those of Dick's character (at its most revolutionary). In other words, activism & revolution, once displaced into fiction, run the risk of becoming escapist fantasy - no matter what the author's intention. On pp 142-143 of Wren's concluding Epilogue chapter here, he writes: "Jonathan Coe wrote a biography of the British novelist B.S.Johnson entitled Like A Fiery Elephant". I have never read B.S.Johnson but I have read his biography. The reason I read his biography is because I am fond of certain novels by Jonathan Coe, especially What A Carve Up!, a vicious condemnation of Thatcherism masquerading as an entertaining, almost Agatha Christiesque, mystery novel. It is a political book but, because it is written in such a conventional manner, for me the form itself is lacking in politics and this makes it feel less political. Instead of challenging the status quo, the novel's politics take on a Trojan horse mentality, a radical political message hidden within a well written, but conventional, novel. B.S.Johnson, on the other hand, prided himself on being a fiercely experimental writer, each of his novels a deliberate experiment in form. His career suffered the consequences of this 'experimental position.' He was not especially political. Like A Fiery Elephant could therefore be described as a conventional yet political writer about the life of an unconventional yet apolitical writer. These are the types of contradictions that continuously fascinate me." SO, Wren is certainly a highly self-aware writer who tries to address this issue of how a political novel shd be written in order for it to serve its purpose best. On p 144 he writes: "all I want to say is FUCK ALL THIS CYNICISM AND PESSIMISM does it really ever get us anywhere. And I worry that what I have written conveys the exact opposite of what I had hoped, because I fucking love activism and fucking love art and I want there to be more radical activism and more politically radical art". Now, I've taken this latter quote & truncated it out of context but that's partially b/c I want you TO READ THIS BK & to read Wren's concluding thoughts & I, therefore, don't want to overencapsulate it here. I'm not opposed to the fictionalization of activist experience - after all, there're bound to be novelists who come out of activist backgrounds & it'll probably continue to be of interest to me to read what they do w/ their personal experience. I do hope that such writers at least TRY to address possible political consequences of such writing & I appreciate Wren's doing so. I wish him luck & will certainly make an attempt to read more by him - even though my own personal preference is probably to create work that sets examples rooted in real life rather than thru fictional proxies.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Grady

    'The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are not necessarily true.' Jacob Wren writes and thinks and expresses and challenges so well that he is an artist that simply cannot be ignored. REVENGE FANTASIES OF THE POLITICALLY DISPOSSESSED is a novel, a well-crafted story with indelible characters that draw the reader into the story with the power of magnets, but it is so very much more. This book is a compelling examination of the empire of capitalism and the possible direction of the future u 'The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are not necessarily true.' Jacob Wren writes and thinks and expresses and challenges so well that he is an artist that simply cannot be ignored. REVENGE FANTASIES OF THE POLITICALLY DISPOSSESSED is a novel, a well-crafted story with indelible characters that draw the reader into the story with the power of magnets, but it is so very much more. This book is a compelling examination of the empire of capitalism and the possible direction of the future unless we act to alter the terrifying pathway. Wren has elements of writers as disparate as Kafka, Sartre, WG Sebald, José Saramago, Julio Cortáza, Rainer Maria Rilke - and yet he has found his own voice in the midst of all of this brain-plucking comparison. At some points this story is terrifying, at some points erotically charged, at some points brimming over with intrigue, and at other points simply gorgeous writing style. Example: 'There is a kind of truth to gossip. Even when the factual information involved is completely fictitious, the nature of the details gossip chooses to focus upon often reveals what we are interested in, the news we really want to hear.' The springboard of this novel is a group of people who attend meetings at some point in time/future to discuss the state of the capitalist world, people who seem to lean to the far left but whose attention is based on talk and not on action: action would mean activism and resistance to status quo of this spent element of capitalistic thought and such response carries the threat of treason as judged by the military which in turn could lead to imprisonment/torture/death. Among these talkers are three characters whom the book follows: The Doctor in his twenties who has a passionate affair with The Writer (a woman who has published a successful book but is in writer's block), and a man called The Third Wheel whose purpose seems to be to derail the relationship between The Doctor and The Writer. The three disperse - The Doctor is in Columbia treating the war torn victims while at the same time engineering and starring in a television reality show that pairs Team Hydrogen (capitalists who drive the production of hydrogen cars) and Team Columbia ( a political activist group) 'Disillusionment is always the worst part, the final insult to the injury of the world's ideological callousness';The Third Wheel who after seducing The Writer ends up in a Latin American country forging a personality as an artist and coping with the guilt of his romantic disruption; The Writer ends up teaching and trying to complete a second novel and gains her information by a life of sleeping with her students '...non-monogamy seems to comply too well, fit too neatly, with the requirements of late capitalism. The imagery suggested by the term evokes a free market in which sexual partners come and go like so many obsolete commodities. It can be argued that the open possibility of many partners creates a competitive economy, a marketplace within which the intimacy of direct physical contact is downgraded, replaced with a series of encounters that, because they are numerous, are at the same time implicitly less important, more superficial.' and she is jailed while she completes her novel. At some point, after the diaspora of these three characters and the adventures that shape their lives, the three meet again - changed, older, different - and the meetings go on signifying the desperate need for activism shrouded in a copse of nihilistic powerlessness. Even in the Epilogue Jacob Wren disturbs the thinking reader into careful examination of human behavior in a struggle toward creating a world that not only makes sense but is better for that change in direction. This is a compelling book, one that demands much from the reader, but at the same time is so extraordinarily entertaining in its sophisticated manner of writing that once started it becomes glued to the eyes and mind, not releasing until the last page is finished. Grady Harp

  8. 4 out of 5

    Giovanni Gelati

    I am enjoying the feedback I am getting from bringing this part of the week here @ The Scoop. I try to bring as many authors to the forefront as I can. As I was discussing with Thomas White during our Wednesday blogtalk interview (feel free to listen to the archived show) there are many excellent authors out there waiting to find an audience. Today I would like to present two: this and later on today The Chinese Conspiracy by John Mariotti. Different, unique, humorous, I can continue on, but let I am enjoying the feedback I am getting from bringing this part of the week here @ The Scoop. I try to bring as many authors to the forefront as I can. As I was discussing with Thomas White during our Wednesday blogtalk interview (feel free to listen to the archived show) there are many excellent authors out there waiting to find an audience. Today I would like to present two: this and later on today The Chinese Conspiracy by John Mariotti. Different, unique, humorous, I can continue on, but let’s get what is between the covers first: “Set in a dystopian near-future, Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed is a novel – a kind of post-capitalist soap opera – about a group of people who regularly attend ‘the meetings.’ At the meetings they have agreed to talk, and only talk, about how to re-ignite the left, for fear if they were to do more, if they were to actually engage in real acts of resistance or activism, they would be arrested, imprisoned or worse. Revenge Fantasies is a book about community. It is also a book about fear. Characters leave the meetings and we follow them out into their lives. The characters we see most frequently are the Doctor, the Writer and the Third Wheel. As the book progresses we see these characters, and others, disengage and re-engage with questions the meetings have brought into their lives. The Doctor ends up running a reality television show about political activism. The Third Wheel ends up in an unnamed Latin American country, trying to make things better but possibly making them worse. The Writer ends up in jail for writing a book that suggests it is politically emancipatory for teachers to sleep with their students. And throughout all of this the meetings continue: aimless, thoughtful, disturbing, trying to keep a feeling of hope and potential alive in what are starting to look like increasingly dark times.” Here is a little something on the author: “Jacob Wren is a writer and maker of eccentric performances. His books include: Unrehearsed Beauty, Families Are Formed Through Copulation and Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed. As co-artistic director of Montreal-based interdisciplinary group PME-ART he has co-created: En français comme en anglais, it's easy to criticize, Unrehearsed Beauty / Le génie des autres, La famille se crée en copulant and the ongoing HOSPITALITÉ / HOSPITALITY series. In 2007 he was invited by Sophiensaele (Berlin) to adapt and direct Wolfgang Koeppen's 1954 novel Der Tod in Rom and in 2008 he was commissioned by Campo (Ghent) to collaborate with Pieter De Buysser on An Anthology of Optimism. He frequently writes about contemporary art.” Definitely a different novel and one that forced me to think about my views and where I stand on them, and act on them. Wren has presented a very unique narrative to get his point across and I found it to work. Sometimes different is not always good, but this worked for me. Revenge Fantasies’ kept my interest throughout and the characters grew on me page by page. I could see an element of myself in each, no matter how small, and that helped me form the connection. If you are looking for a departure from the norm, something to take you out of whatever box you may be stuck in, then this is that novel. What are you reading today? Have you checked out our new blogtalk radio show The G-ZONE? Check us out and become our friend on Shelfari, The Novel Spot &Twitter. Go to Goodreads and become our friend there and suggest books for us to read and post on. Did you know you can shop directly on Amazon by clicking the Amazon Banner on our blog? Thanks for stopping by today; We will see you tomorrow. Have a great day. http://www.gelatisscoop.blogspot.com

  9. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    I read it because I saw Jacob Wren at some theatrical event in Latvia. He had a presentation about cooperation, capitalism or something like that, but what I really remembered was his very exact way with words. So when his book came out I ordered it right away and was not disappointed. It's a witty, pessimistic, emotional book about political activism, disillusionment and besides that, art. I read it because I saw Jacob Wren at some theatrical event in Latvia. He had a presentation about cooperation, capitalism or something like that, but what I really remembered was his very exact way with words. So when his book came out I ordered it right away and was not disappointed. It's a witty, pessimistic, emotional book about political activism, disillusionment and besides that, art.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    Narrative how narrative was meant to be written, and read. Brutally darkly comic indictment of the political left’s successes and failures. Starkly realistic depiction of human sexual interaction and its fallouts.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Eugene

    different things get you: some sections romantic and conceptually smart, others filled with a carefully self-doubting and insightful political analysis. but the aspect that i most admired was an honesty and willingness for risk that's hard to pinpoint but which was very moving. different things get you: some sections romantic and conceptually smart, others filled with a carefully self-doubting and insightful political analysis. but the aspect that i most admired was an honesty and willingness for risk that's hard to pinpoint but which was very moving.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tuck

    pedlar press, one to watch. Wren's 7 part interconnected novel is a cynical and sarcastic view of an unnamed superpower that is out of control with hubris, greed, and Orwellian logic of violence, but let's face it, this is about usa, and death throes(?) of capitalism. my kinda fiction :) pedlar press, one to watch. Wren's 7 part interconnected novel is a cynical and sarcastic view of an unnamed superpower that is out of control with hubris, greed, and Orwellian logic of violence, but let's face it, this is about usa, and death throes(?) of capitalism. my kinda fiction :)

  13. 5 out of 5

    J.A.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Martine

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lance Blomgren

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sean Patrick

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tim Powers

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joel Miller

  19. 5 out of 5

    Beth Follett

  20. 4 out of 5

    dimwig

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ken H.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Justin

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dobbs

  24. 5 out of 5

    John

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joe Bernardi

  26. 4 out of 5

    Iffy Tillieu

  27. 4 out of 5

    donny

  28. 5 out of 5

    Liam Siemens

  29. 4 out of 5

    Masha

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ian

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