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Chump – Beau’s antics and arrogance make him easy to loathe and impossible to look away from in this farce about race and class for those not easily offended.
Forensic psychiatrist Rusty Reeves debuts with a brazen satirical novel that leaves some American archetypes unscathed. Witty, provocative prose and an unabashed narrator contribute to a work that is guaranteed to both scandalize and hook its readers.
Privileged Princeton medical student Beau Peebles is the novel’s anti-hero. Technically brilliant but socially a misfit, he has just returned home to Dallas, ready to grace his low-income clinics with his wisdom and generosity. But Beau, complex savior aside, is quite tired of people whose health he meant to take care of. “I was the altar boy for the welfare state,” he said, just before a crude remark about the center of his female patients.
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The opening chapters find Beau recycling, in self-consciously elevated language, every barb ever uttered by those who resent the chronically poor: women’s bodies spit out babies in spite of themselves, welfare queens shudder away from work, and so on. . Reeves’ prose, while undoubtedly reflecting the views of some, is sure to mislead those who do not share the same sentiments.
Beau determines that compassionate people are fools, however, and the story he tells seeks to disabuse bleeding hearts of their illusions. He chooses to change the game by trying something radical: understanding. In this name, he charmed his way into a low-income apartment inhabited by a family on the corner.
From a box in their living room, he records the family’s every move and gives unsolicited advice. It hurts more than it helps. He cannot consider his interference as anything other than an opportunity for the family in question. Still, despite his clumsy provision of anthropology, and a subsequent disastrous experience with living in blackface, understanding escaped him.
Beau’s antics and arrogance make him easy to loathe and impossible to look away from. He officially dominates the pages of Reeves’s book, as his exhausting and obsessive experimentation, along with his inability to resist pontificating, push him toward the fringes of polite society.
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Loaded with sexist language, cultivating misanthropy, racism, and classism, but engaging these mindsets with such passion that, even at its most offensive, it becomes impossible to defend. The details in Beau’s bottom spiral make for surprising and compelling reading. A long accusatory poem serves as the final chapter of the novel, accusing all factions of society for the hopeless state of humanity: “I do not plan the fate of this world … / My peers are posers, lonely losers, better / In following and the band. With hollow chests.” Hubris and eloquence here is the perfect conclusion to a novel guided by both.
Established itself as a match for a gas spill that many are content to ignore, and from which few will prove able to look away.
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Adventure Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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