There are remarkable books whose ingenuity and formal daring put them beyond the range of conventional appraisal. There are also books lamentably difficult to assess because their utter disregard for style, literate narrative exposition and the entertainment quotient requisite in popular fiction seems more a result of artless ignorance than authorial intention.
"The Overton Window: A Thriller," a first novel by radio talk-show host and Fox News personality Glenn Beck, squats immovably in that latter category. Suffice to say that, the subtitle notwithstanding, there is nothing even remotely thrilling about this didactic, discursive sporadically incoherent novel. The image of a train wreck comes quickly to mind, though this book actually has more the character and all of the excitement of a lurching, low-speed derailment halfway out of the station.
The protagonist of "The Overton Window" is Noah Gardner, a dashing young bachelor about town New York working as an executive in the high-powered public relations firm founded by his ruthlessly villainous father. Dad, it quickly emerges, is the living prime mover in a plot stretching back nearly 100 years to subvert American constitutionalism and supplant it with the tyranny of an economic and political elite, while throwing everyone including right-to-lifers, "tea party" activists, Libertarians and NRA members into concentration camps. (Hint: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt are bad guys in this imagined history.) Noah, however, falls for the daring, beautiful Molly Ross, who is working as a temp at the agency and is part of an insurgent group dedicated to resisting the conspiracy.
And in case you were wondering...
In this case the "Overton Window" is a concept attributed to the late Libertarian commentator Joseph Overton, who died in a plane crash seven years ago at the age of 43. The Michigan think tank where he worked describes the concept thus: "In a given public policy area
only a relatively narrow range of potential policies will be considered politically acceptable. This 'window' of politically acceptable options is primarily defined not by what politicians prefer, but rather by what they believe they can support and still win re-election. In general, then, the window shifts to include different policy options not when ideas change among politicians, but when ideas change in the society that elects them."
I await MikeC's response in this thread.http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-rutten-20100623,0,5305053.story