Peter Van Buren’s Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent
A story about growth, failure, and redemption, Ghosts of
Tom Joadtraces the rise of the working poor and the
don’t-have-to-work-rich as it follows the fortunes of the protagonist
Earl. A product of the post–Korean War era, Earl witnesses his parents’
kitchen table arguments over money—echoed in thousands of other Rust
Belt towns—experiences bullying, relishes first kisses, and comes of age
and matures as a man before the economic hardships of the 1980s and
1990s wear on his spirit. Earl takes his turn at a variety of low-paying
retail jobs in the new economy before becoming mired in homelessness
and succumbing to meth, alcohol, and destitution. As he takes a final,
metaphorical bus ride, Earl reflects on his past, considering the impact
of the war on his father—and, subsequently, on himself—his own demise,
and the romance between himself and Angel, which ultimately redeems him.
This is a tale about the death of manufacturing, the
deindustrialization of America, and a way of life that has been
irrevocably lost. Anyone interested in the impact of political and
business policy on the American Dream will be drawn to this profound,
humorous, and moving novel.
Friday, May 30, 2014
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