Monday, January 12, 2015

The Global War on Morris - Steve Israel

For this week's non-crime Monday I am posting The Global War on Morris by Steve Israel with the permission of Shelf Awareness for Readers where it first appeared as a starred review. There's a lot of food for thought in this satire, but a lot of laughs as well. Hope you enjoy.

(Note, the first line of the book is preceded by this definition: tsu-ris (/tsoÕùoris/) n.--1. Trouble or woe; aggravation.)

First line: "Tsuris ahead."

Brandishing biting wit and a Washington insider's perspective, U.S. Congressman Steve Israel (New York) takes aim at the United States' global war on terror--revealing true casualties--in his hilariously shrewd first novel.

Pharmaceutical salesman Morris Feldstein walks the straight and narrow in his tediously routine life. He avoids conflict at all costs and follows the philosophy "don't make waves." Victoria D'Amico is a recently single, lonely receptionist on Morris's sales route. She lures Morris, who is in a rare state of weakness, to lunch and seduces him into a single, pitiful illicit rendezvous. Before Morris even reaches the seedy motel, the government is scrutinizing him through crosshairs due to a zany chain of innocent encounters. Spies and surveillance systems feed misinterpreted information about Morris into a supercomputer that determines he is a serious threat to national security. Morris Feldstein's routine life is turned upside down with no sign of being righted.

Israel's wicked sense of humor highlights the absurdity of his subject matter, clear down to setting descriptions: "Landscaping trucks sat on the sides of the road like infantry vehicles in an army of occupation, a foreign legion of immigrants impressed into lawn-to-lawn combat in the global war on dandelions." Readers will doubtlessly find analogs to Israel's exaggerated characters among their coworkers, neighbors, maybe even family.

Like his salesman protagonist, Israel has something to pitch: the belief that Americans must stop allowing fear to govern them. His obvious conviction for this idea propels him to alter Morris's philosophy: "be selective; make the right waves." The Global War on Morris is the right wave.

The Global War on Morris is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9781476772233) from Simon & Schuster.


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