Fragility by Mosby Woods
|Fragility by Mosby Woods
|Category: Literary Fiction
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy
|Summary: An examination of the current state of play in one of the US's most progressive cities. Our narrator, fond of naughty jokes, struggles to keep making them in a newly censorious environment. Around him, the world seems to be going mad and calling it social justice. Is it?
|Date: April 2023
|Publisher: Independently published
|External links: Author's website
Can you make a Yo birthing person joke? And if you could, is the question should you make it? Or is the question if you did, would it land? The catch is that the answer for both could well be.... no.
Fragility is set as the city of Portland, Oregon, cautiously begins to emerge from the restrictions imposed during the covid pandemic. Everyone's gone a bit barmy. Before coronavirus hit, the country had somehow elected a baboon as its president. Then everyone went full pelt for the social isolation of lockdown. And at some point, the language changed and everybody wanted to police the way everybody else used it. And from policing language, it's an easy pivot into making windows into men's souls and policing their very thoughts. Heterodoxy has become a dirty word.
But the thing is, our narrator likes a naughty joke. And his opinions, stubbornly, don't want to conform. So what to do in a world where diversity officers plot against non-compliant doctors, marriages turn into polycules, the forests are burning, the fury at social injustice turns to riots in the streets, and homeless encampments sprawl ever larger?
Well, you have a birthday party. Obviously. And you see what chaos ensues.
Oh, I thoroughly enjoyed Fragility. It's a chaotic survey of the current state of play politically, where traditional alliances are being upended and the ground seems rather unstable and this holds whether you're of the left or the right, liberal or conservative. The city of Portland, one of America's most progressive, rises from the pages almost as a character with its own arc. And it asks a lot of awkward questions - if the push for social justice makes streets unsafe, is that really social justice? And if it isn't, is electing a baboon for a leader really the answer? And there's a passionate appeal for humour, especially the near to the knuckle stuff. Without it, how can we hold the powerful to account? Woods draws on jokes made by Soviet dissidents to illustrate this in a very clever way. And a big shout out to the impactful and sometimes disturbing illustrations that punctuate almost every page. I found them quite mesmerising.
Perhaps it has a tendency to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, into making its points, but I enjoyed all the references in Fragility and I think readers will, too.
Recommended. That is, if you agree with Woods that it is hard to purge all of our heterodox opinions. I agree. It is.
You might also enjoy A Whirly Man Loses His Turn, also by Woods - a novel discussing the pickle western civilisation currently finds itself in, by means of the fantastic and absurd visions of a seer who has lost accuracy in his visions. It also draws inspiration from the Soviet dissidents.
You can read more book reviews or buy Fragility by Mosby Woods at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Fragility by Mosby Woods at Amazon.com.
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