Thomas William Simpson, the acclaimed author of This Way Madness Lies and The Gypsy Storyteller, extends his literary powers, spinning an uproarious and disturbing tale about a place called America, and all the fools, dreamers, villains, and heroes who have made it possible.
It’s dawn in America. At least it’s dawn in the Blue Mountains, where the nation’s eyes have turned. Because on this day, January 20, 2001, Inauguration Day, a man who is spectacularly unqualified to be President–a man just thirty-three years old, who wants his mother to be his Vice President, who has never held a job, and has no apparent political views at all–is about to be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.
Several problems, however, block William Conrad Brant MacKenzie’s entrance to the Oval Office. First, the rumor mill is flooded with talk Willy may well be insane, or at least emotionally unstable. Second, the Supreme Court has refused to recognize his election because of his age. And third, even if Willy is inaugurated, he may have a difficult time presiding over the nation. As the twenty-first century dawns, the United States is in a rapid state of political, social, and moral decline.
So how did Willy MacKenzie, scion of one of America’s wealthiest and most eccentric families, get elected in the first place? To discover the answer to this puzzling question, renegade Gonzo journalist Mr. Jack Steel, Willy’s own Mephistopheles, takes us on a journey through 20th century America. We meet Willy’s great grandfather, Ulysses S. Grant MacKenzie; his reclusive, war hero father; his mother, a strong, magical woman of Iroquois ancestry; and Dawn, the great and enduring love of Willy’s life.
Skillfully and cunningly, Steel weaves a story of a nation in transition, of war and peace, of political skullduggery and environmental disaster, of generational struggles crowded with ambition, corruption, and lost innocence.
As the journalist speaks, and more than one hundred years of American history flash by, the suspense mounts around Willy’s Inauguration. Will he take the oath of office? Is he qualified to take the oath? Or is Willy merely a pawn in a grand and sinister scheme?
This is Thomas William Simpson’s most outlandish work to date. Prepare to be thrown into a crazed and surreal world, almost hallucinatory in its reach. Full Moon Over America is at once an amusing, troubling, and all together unconventional novel about love and trust and power and family and the God-given right of every individual to live life as he or she sees fit.
Like all of Simpson’s novels, Full Moon Over America is rich in its language, accessible in its plot, and driven by the dreams and obsessions of its unconventional characters. A truly distinctive and original American work of fiction.
Full Moon Over America was my third published novel with Warner Books. It was the first of a two book contract. Warner paid me handsomely because of the success of The Gypsy Storyteller and This Way Madness Lies. Those novels had sold reasonably well and been enthusiastically received by reviewers.
I received lots of advice on what I should write next. Of course, I didn’t listen because I’ve never been any good at listening to reasonable, conservative people who usually know a lot more than I do. It is my Achilles’ heel. But also it is the essential quality that has allowed me live an irregular life and write a unique and diverse stable of novels.
Full Moon Over America was the beginning of the end of my commercial career. My editor, the lovely and brilliant Ms. Jamie Raab, and really the entire staff at Warner who worked on Full Moon, had no idea what to make of the novel. It was very difficult to summarize, categorize, or commercially legitimize.
Describing the story in a few sentences, a key requirement for attention deficient Americans, was next to impossible. Likely it was doomed from its conception. I am amazed all these years later Larry Kirshbaum and Jamie Raab and others at Warner approved the novel’s publication. For that support, despite the book being a commercial dud, I will always be grateful.
Because it can’t always be about the money, about the approval. I think Full Moon Over America is my most creative and imaginative novel to date. It may not be my most accessible story, but the prose is innovative and challenging and lyrical; nearly poetic in its reach.
Full Moon Over America is intensely political in its point of view, and politics has never been an easy sell to the American fiction reading public. I am offering the book for sale here in the hope of a second coming. As I said, Warner did not know how to market the book and so they slipped and the novel fell through the cracks. Now, with the Clinton and Bush Presidencies in the rearview mirror, we can see just how visionary Full Moon Over America really was. It was a story far ahead of its time.
I was raised in an extremely political household. My father was intensely conservative, my mother moderate in her political views but more liberal in her social views. I came of age during the Vietnam War and the college protests and the Watergate hearings. I remember well watching those hearings on TV one summer while sick in bed with mononucleosis. I can still hear the lies and deceits well told.
My cynicism and disillusionment in our political system had real and, I think, justifiable roots. It was, at least in part, this cynicism and disillusionment that led to the writing of Full Moon Over America. For those who lived through those times, the novel will be an interesting refresher. And for those who came along later, Full Moon will hopefully be a revelation.
I urge you to give this crazy, mad, and outlandish story a try. It is everything great fiction should be–entertaining, daring, demanding, inventive, eccentric, and reflective.