Ralph Nader's Non-Novel Novel: Unsafe at Any Read?
Ralph Nader begins his new book, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, with an author's note that attempts to clarify any genre confusion the reader might have. "This book is not a novel," he announces. "Nor is it nonfiction. In the literary world, it might be described as a 'practical utopia.' " It's a smart clarification to offer because, by the aesthetic criteria of either of those two more common forms, it is a colossal, Hindenburgian disaster.
As a novel it is a dismal affair: gracelessly written, ploddingly plotted, and long. Oh God so long. And as a political tract it advances a conception of politics both grossly condescending and depressingly elitist. Democracy, Nader seems to say, could be ours: if only the oligarchs would get behind it.