“Oh, how did a modest little Presbyterian congregation in South Minneapolis turn into a cohesive guerilla force fighting against the Methodists, the Sharks, the Jets and the Speed Racers? …Well, Presbyterian churches – well, not the ones affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA, but the more traditional ones – always keep a cache of firearms, ammo, pipes and drums in a locker in a secret room in the basement. The secret scroll kept under the altar of all Presbyterian Churches says they are kept against the day when Edward Longshanks rises from the dead to oppress the people. We figured this was close enough.”
First of all, full disclosure. Mitch Berg, author of Trulbert! A Comic Novella About the End of the World As We Know It, is an acquaintance of mine. He writes the Shot in the Dark blog, and hosts the Saturday Northern Alliance radio program on a Twin Cities talk station – where I’ve been a guest.
But I paid for my copy.
“Trulbert” is not, as you might think, the name of a character in the book (which is not a novella, in my opinion, but long enough to be considered a full novel), but of a Facebook page – “TRU LBRT NOW” – which one of the characters, an anarcho-Libertarian, sets up at the beginning of the story.
Shortly after that, his fondest dreams come true. Due to an error by a Chinese government broker, US bonds are suddenly devalued to zero, and the dollar becomes instantly worthless. All government in America and around the world collapses (with surprisingly little bureaucratic resistance, but we’re dealing with comedy here), and anarchism reigns. The libertarians are very happy for a while, as people quickly figure out ways to provide their own goods and services, and even set up new forms of currency (even the electricity never goes off, conveniently). It looks like Ayn Rand’s dream has come true.
Until a nebbishy, hen-pecked minor state bureaucrat named Myron Ilktost discovers his inner Mussolini and takes control of a progressive Methodist church in Minneapolis, which he soon turns into the baddest street gang in the metropolitan area. And before long he has made himself the dictator of the city and several suburbs. Our protagonist, Paul Hendrickson, an employee of a medical claims company, becomes a leader of the resistance, which takes shape against the backdrop of Vikings-Packers game that turns into a riot.
Trulbert! is a weird comic opera of a book, heavy with satire (it helps to know Minnesota politics, but it’s not necessary), in which author Berg (who once ran for state office on the Libertarian Party ticket, but grew disillusioned with the party’s naivety about human nature) pokes fun at anarchism, statism, public schools, and professional football among other things. I got some genuine guffaws out of it, and I thought it made some excellent points. Mitch isn’t a polished writer, but he shows good promise.
(My main quibble was with a scene where the story flashes back to 13th Century Norway, and a farmer worries about the potatoes. That’s about 500 years too early for potatoes.)
Recommended. Mild cautions for language. Good fun.