by Wanda Lucas
Two Petworth residents have written books about living in the Trump administration era, and their take is decidedly snarky and humorous. I recently interviewed both authors to learn more about the inspiration behind their books. It was interesting to learn about the two different approaches to expressing their feelings and shared concerns about living in DC during this time.
Author Philip Becnel was inspired by the Monkeywrench books of the 1970s as he attempted to capture the same spirit – part satire, part dystopia in his novel Freedom City. Believing many people are experiencing “Trump fatigue,” he felt a book of this type would be welcomed in Petworth – the “Brooklyn of DC,” a community of diverse, young and educated people. Philip believes most people in DC share a universal loathing about Trump and how he speaks about women, minorities and the media, and how these views are easily accepted by mainstream conservatives. His book is an attempt to take a dire situation and poke fun at it.
Get the Kindle version from Amazon, or the physical version from Upshur Street Books!
Working on the book was easy and allowed Philip to address his inner turmoil with members of his family who are all Trump supporters.
“Writing Freedom City was extremely cathartic for me. It took me from a dark place to one where I could actually see a lot of humor in the situation,” he said.
The protagonists are caricatures but also progressive, regular people who’ve had enough.
Philip, the manager of a private investigative firm, clearly uses his experiences with every area of the city as he provides beautifully depicted images of DC neighborhoods and its residents in the book. The reader is brought into the story quickly and taken for an exhilarating ride. The characters are well developed and you are provided unexpected but welcomed twists and turns in the story.
Philip wants readers to laugh with him and know they’re not alone. He believes we will get through this together. Prior book release parties have been held in DC and Brooklyn and one is scheduled at Quimby’s bookstore in Chicago in June. Reviews found on Amazon include:
“Freedom City is full of complex characters, cutting political humor, suspenseful action and unexpected twists.”
“It’s a page-turner, funny, scary, irreverent, topical commentary that is clearly the cry of despair that all thinking, compassionate, constitution-loving Americans can identify with. Read it and weep. And laugh.”
Author Nolan Oaks* took an entirely different approach to his book because he’d wanted to go back and read classic literature again. He was strongly inspired by the classic, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (first published in 1915), and hoped people would read and enjoy his book because the source material is absolutely brilliant. Wanting to see classic literature embraced again, he added, “There is a lot of really great literature out there that is relevant and absolutely fantastic.”
Get the Kindle version on Amazon or directly on the author's website
Imagining Trump as the protagonist who transforms into a bug was not difficult, and Nolan found other original characters lent themselves well to individuals in the current administration. His research included reading the source material again, looking at the thematic elements and rediscovering the good stories he could use in his own book.
Each chapter begins with a particular quote from Trump that doesn’t make much sense but is surprisingly relevant to what the chapter is about. As a DC resident, Nolan believes his perception of Trump is probably aligned with other residents who can relate to his book.
The book was a lot of fun to write, provided a great deal of stress relief and has connected Nolan to classic literature. He credits the illustrator, Nathan Oaks*, for doing such a fantastic job, and believes the book wouldn’t have been successful without Nathan’s drawings... or as he calls it, “The perfect capture."
MetamorphoTrump can be purchased on Nolan's website and on Amazon, with a portion of the book’s proceeds donated to institutions at risk under the current administration, including preservation of the environment, healthcare, sound science, independent journalism, and civil liberties. This book is the first in a series of others that will be adapted from classic literature.
Readers are invited to visit MakeLiteratureGreatAgain.com and VOTE on what Trump Classic you would like to see next!
(*Nolan and Nathan Oaks are the pen names of a local Petworth writer and his brother.)