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One Year Later & These Troubled Days Feels More Plausible Than Ever

These Troubled Days is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online booksellers. It’s also available at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA. America’s poorest urban areas have been fully privatized and converted into open-air internment camps for undocumented immigrants, Muslims, and the government’s declared enemies. Private military corporations have absorbed the country’s policing functions and actively hunt out dissidents and those deemed “unfit for trial”. Most of the country’s economic activity is overseen by one megacorporation, which uses its monopoly on media to push propaganda. A fascist demagogue has gutted the democratic process and is obsessed with purging his opponents. Any dissent from a prefabricated reality is considered a crime. If all that sounds plausible in 2022, imagine conceiving of it more than a decade ago. I was inspired to write These Troubled Days initially as a reaction to the Bush administration’s War on Terror and the increasing power of corporate America. To watch a government treat fear as currency to change regimes overseas and enrich their friends felt wildly out of step with what we ought to be getting out of a democratic country. As I did undergraduate and graduate work involving the study of prison privatization, redlining, income inequality, authoritarian regimes, and domestic terrorism, my vision for These Troubled Days took root. But there were many starts and stops in the writing process. Life happens, things stall. I was still pretty young and was struggling to find my voice as a writer. I was also somewhat disturbed every time a world event would take place that seemed to bring this work of fiction I was trying to flesh out a bit closer to reality. The book’s title is an understatement. After the 2016 Election, I decided I had to see this novel through to the finish. It quite literally clicked. It instantly felt that everything I was afraid of coming to pass just happened, and that if I sat and did nothing I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. All these things going on in the country just started boiling over. Although I was technically finished with the book before 2021, it didn’t go to print until May of that year. Just a few months too late to beat out the January 6th insurrection, but not before a strange coincidence. I depict the novel’s megacorporation as being in total control of the country’s media apparatus, and as a nod to the Soviet Union’s state newspaper I decided to call it The Truth. I suspected it might have been too on the nose. Later that year, Donald Trump would found Truth Social. Not even a whiff of irony in the whole thing. These Troubled Days follows several characters in the Boston area dealing with the aftermath of cataclysmic global events, leading to the seizure of power in the US by a political force bent on global resource hoarding and the creation of a de facto white ethno-state. Each of the characters are on various sides of the political divide or are apolitical, and each either rebel, make excuses for not opposing the regime more forcefully, or support it wholeheartedly. It had to have honesty. If you’re asking people to suspend their belief by putting them in this world, you’ve got to ground every other thing as much as possible. It felt real to depict most people as either making peace with this establishment or trudging along without thinking much about it. It parallels the current experience. Given the rise in the past few years of racist, bigoted rhetoric and absurd conspiracy theories, I fear that These Troubled Days remains eerily prescient. You don’t have to go back that far into American history to see white supremacy as the unofficial — and often official — policy. But you can. Everything from the treatment of Native Americans right up to the ‘Great Replacement’ theory espoused by increasingly violent fringe actors and even espoused by major media outlets, the seeds of all this were planted and harvested before our time and we’re forced to deal with the legacy. This book is my attempt to come to grips with it and offer a stark warning of the path we seem to be on. If you are interested in picking up a copy, check out the link here.

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