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NEW YORK, NY, June 18, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- It's hard to imagine an America fundamentally different from the one we know. The belief in American Exceptionalism, buttressed, as it is, by an oak-solid constitution guaranteeing our rights and liberties, makes for a sense of structural continuity that seems almost inviolate. But, as Jim Holmgren ably demonstrates in his thought-provoking new novel, Dodendal: Valley of Dreams, a little tweaking here and there of current trends in our government and culture can make for an America you'd have a hard time recognizing fifty years hence. The future ain't what it used to be, as Yogi Berra says. And Holmgren's page-turning dystopia delivers a sobering wake-up call about the importance of remaining vigilant.
The action takes place over the course of one fateful week during the Tricentennial celebration of the former United States of America. The country--bankrupted after the Mideast Oil Wars of the 2030s, and short four states including California after the Second Mexican American War--is a shadow of its former self; a dark shadow at that. The newly formed Incorporated States of America, returned to solvency by the country's new corporate government, has eliminated war as an outmoded inefficiency, declaring constitutional freedoms in the process, to be subordinate to the needs of the Corporation's mission. Many Americans are grateful. Some realize what they have given up.
"Governments tend toward seeking greater control of their citizens--and always will if those citizens let them," says Holmgren, who draws on his background in law enforcement, teaching, and experiences living in totalitarian states to create a compellingly vivid portrait of corporate efficiency run amok. "I set out, in Dodendal, to portray a future world under a totalitarian government, but, because of the strength of the human spirit I saw under totalitarian regimes, I wanted my characters to be more complex, more unpredictable, in short, more human than what we've seen in other dystopias such as 1984 and Brave New World."
Dodendal: Valley of Dreams is the rich, compelling story of history teacher Ian Vanderkill and lover Siobhan Carlson's nearly Sisyphean efforts to reclaim their humanity in a society that tolerates no resistance. Dissenters in the Incorporated States of America routinely disappear at the slightest suggestion that they're a threat to the Corporation, a process made infinitely easier by the government transponders inserted into citizen's heads before the age of seven. "I was teaching college in Uganda when Idi Amin overthrew the government and set up his reign of terror there," Holmgren explains. "I saw firsthand the effects of a totalitarian state and wanted to explore the difference that courageous people can make in the face of soul-crushing odds."
Holmgren is especially adept at extrapolating current cultural trends and demonstrating the dark places to which they may lead. From "corporate personhood" to the tension in 21st-century gender relations, Dodendal mines our present cultural currents and stretches them to devastating effect. NSA surveillance, the growing gulf between rich and poor, males socially relegated "to the back of the bus," the relentless intrusions of technology--just try reading Dodendal without feeling an urgent need to reign in many of today's excesses.
Dodendal is the Dutch name for a valley in New York's mid-Hudson highlands, Doodletown, as it became known once it was Anglicized. Andnow a ghost town within Bear Mountain State Park. "There's tremendous history there," explains Holmgren, "especially as it relates to the War of Independence and the founding of our country." It's the perfect place to begin and end a story about reclaiming our liberties--a site where they were fought for in the first place. The mid-Hudson Valley is a wonderful backdrop, and Holmgren's lyrical prose brings it vividly to life. Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck, Beacon, Millbrook--the valley's natural beauty is as evocative as ever in the latter years of the 21st century. Dodendal may be the Valley of Dreams--but unless we're careful, this important new novel warns us, this idyllic setting could end up being the place that our dreams go to die.
Jim Holmgren has been a teacher and law enforcement professional and has extensive professional experience working for a large, international corporation. He has lived in various locations in the US, Europe, and Africa. He has experienced, firsthand, the extremes of totalitarian governments, first in East Berlin and later in Idi Amin's Uganda. Jim and his wife, Alste, make their home in the mid-Hudson Valley of New York.
For further information, visit www.HolmgrenBooks.com
Media contact: Victor Gulotta
Gulotta Communications, Inc.
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