By Luther Blissett
January 7th, 2017
Opening piece, “A State of Imprisonment,” sticks with you. Brutal without unnecessary graphic details. Kind of like a strong female lead in a politicized, short version of “Prison Break.”
Powerful narrative covers potential problems of privatized prisons. Storyline: female investigative reporter encounters a private corporate prison that comprises 80% of the State of Arizona. Engaging. Exquisitely written.
Title piece is non-fiction essay written several years ago where Shirley suggests new sets of taboos against social transgressions. Given Trump’s election, Shirley’s tone seems somewhat moderate. Would love to know what Shirley would write today. Short. Powerful. Worth reading.
“Why We Need Forty Years of Hell” continues Shirley’s critique on the rich and powerful. Has Shirley written a class war novel yet? He takes on the singularity, importance of shelter, pharmaceuticals in the ocean, and Greece’s economic collapse. With “New Taboos,” it’s like a more literary-referencing short form Jon Stewart taking it to the bureaucrats and oligarchs. Shirley slashes and burns without sounding like an out of tune three chord juvenile rage. While I love juvenile rage, we need more authors exploring—smartly—the grounds between punk rock and Gore Vidal. We need more writing like this.
Terry Bisson’s closing interview with Shirley is, as ever, interesting. Music, movies, writing professionally.
Most thought provoking piece that sticks with you, and could easily be made into a movie or an Amazon series, is “A State of Imprisonment.” Think aesthetics of “Mr. Robot” with the conspiracies of “Lost.”