In his introduction to The Overton Window, Glenn Beck insists that he is writing "faction", that is to say, factual fiction, and you'd be pardoned for giggling at the evidently unintentional and apparently unnoticed neological homophone that's produced in the contraction. Among the Window's many faults--plot points telegraphed so far in advance as to suggest that a time machine is at work; dialogue that makes the Saturday cartoons of my youth sound like Shakespeare--its persistent infelicity is the most vexing. Proper nouns are capitalized and the punctuation, although idiosyncratic, is mostly correct, so I've got to believe that there was an editor. Maybe a few. And yet:
The moon was bright and his eyes were well adjusted to the darkness.(Well, maybe I'm giving the punctuation too much credit. That compound sentence desperately wants a comma.) No description escapes its own undermining. The sentence I diagrammed last week works just as hard against itself. After a jumble of images notable mostly for their increasing specificity, the conscious source of the sensation says that he's not sure he heard anything at all. It's one thing to say, "I thought I saw a car pull away, but I couldn't be sure." It's quite another to say, "I thought I saw a car pull away, definitely a late-model BMW, looked like it had a sport package with low-profile tires, and it was red, with PA license plate ABC-1234, and there was a black man approximately 6'3" driving and a white man who weighed about 155 lbs and had a scar over his eye in the passenger seat, but I couldn't be sure." In real life, of course, eyewitnesses tend to confabulate, to add details that they never saw, but as a descriptive device in a story, especially a "thriller," it's a fat fucking dud, draining momentum and urgency, fading into soft focus and filling everything with haze.
Anyway, I come not to bury Beck, but to praise him! Sort of. The Overton Window, for all its manifold failures as a book, for all its infelicities and inconsistencies, for its schizoid sensibilities, actually--I swear to the baby Jesus--makes a simplistic but acceptable Marxist critique of the American state. I am not kidding. You have to look beyond the superficial stage dressings of American nationalism and generic anti-tax activism. In fact, the book convincingly identifies the political establishment as a subsidiary set of a more diverse ownership class who, through manipulation of public sentiment and political processes, have created a system of wealth expropriation for their own benefit. Haha, they're capitalists! It is a sign of the success of their real-life counterparts that Beck sings the praises of capitalism and calls them elites. But seriously, change the terminology and keep the lousy writing: this coulda been a freshman paper at Oberlin.