Review by: KEN KORCZAK
Keep in mind I’ve read only the first “Episode” of this 13-part series which the author bills as, “a serial novel for people who like to watch TV.” Each offering is about 20 pages – the first is free, and so writer GILLIAN WILL is really putting her writing chops on the line by trying to make the first installment so compelling you’ll want to pay hard cash money for the next.
Part of me wants to think: “Has this what it’s gotten down to? Writers are so desperate to compete with the Boob Tube today that they’re employing marketing gimmicks to ensure readers that books can be just as fun, easy – and mindless? – as television?”
But that’s the way I think when I am a cynical reviewer in a bad mood (which is almost all the time).
I’m in an okay mood today, however, so I’ll give all the credit in the world to GILLIAN WILL for attempting to innovate, find new audiences for books and, who knows, create a new niche market or genre of literature.
Whatever the case, it gets down to judging the book not by its cover or sales scheme, but on the literature itself. On that score, I issue high praise, indeed. I found the first installment of THE STATE OF WYOMING to be refreshingly well written – smart, with perky and punchy prose, effortless character development and a plot that gets going fast.
The premise is also a winner for guys like me who are addicted political wonks. It involves a mythical federal government program called “The Fifty States” which is basically an empty bureaucratic shell staffed by one person for each state – and their actual job or function is so vague even the program’s director would have trouble explaining the purpose of the operation to Congress – or to the American people, for that matter.
The viewpoint character is a likable slacker who’s collecting a government paycheck as “Wyoming,” meaning he represents his state in Washington by doing little more than showing up to his desk. The reason the Elliot Vance landed such a cushy job is that he happens to be the grand-nephew of former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance.
Not to worry – Mr. Vance’s life is about to get complicated when a lovely blonde Congressional aide shows up to his cubical one day with an actual assignment for him – it seems he’s needed in his “home state” of Wyoming for a special mission – and now he must actually visit The Equality State for the first time in his life.
The first installment is free – thus, you can’t go wrong – so I say give it a try. I’m betting more than a few will opt to keep reading through the next “Episode,” which, after all, is only 99 cents, or free if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, like me.
Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS
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