Switching between past and present, Erin Berry’s satirical novel, Chronicles of Idiot, tells the history of a curious government organization designed to protect unsuspecting Americans from getting too preoccupied with things that might really matter. The convoluted untruths start with the death of Hitler and rise of “Eisenhowitzer,” puns on names and TV programs being part of the satire. One arm of the story moves forward through secret journals while another tells the present day tale of an accidental recruit. IDIOT is a nicely chosen acrynym—you’ll have to read the book to find out why—and the satirical view of modern media preoccupations is well imagined, though the puns can be a little labored at times. It’s hard to like characters so absorbed in the unreal, but there’s a certain fascination to seeing how far the premise might go—kind of like watching a redone American Idol, lightly renamed, beaten over the head with satire, and shaken not stirred.
Chronicles of Idiot reads slowly with its changes of time, tense and voice, but it certainly offers food for thought and an interesting view of politics and the media.
Disclosure: I won an ecopy of this novel in a blog contest.