The Novel

       I talk about having written a novel, but for a long time there was nothing of the novel itself in the blog to be read. That situation was finally corrected with the addition of a page titled “The Novel” -- just generic enough that I can post a synopsis for starters, maybe add a cast of characters after that, and when readers’ anticipation reaches fever pitch, I can start to serialize it. That’s if major publishers aren’t fighting over it; all bets are off, then. I’m giving the big boys a reasonable time, but two or three years and I'm publishing it myself.
       The story is set in L.A., a city that shall remain nameless,  in 1968, because that’s when I started writing it. The story plays out between August and December of that year, but writing it took longer. Luckily nothing much changed between 1968 and 1996, so I didn’t have to do a lot of revising when I finished it. Submittal to agents has been desultory; I think I’ve picked up only a dozen or so rejections, which tells you I haven’t been trying hard enough, because work like this deserves lots more rejections than that.  I took a shot at a couple of award contests along the way, but that’s even more futile and costs you money besides, for reading fees.
      I’m bucking the odds anyway. Was it Samuel Goldwyn who said, “Messages are for Western Union”?  Somebody in the movie business back then, anyway. And here I’m attempting to embed a serious message in a humorous story, so the project has two strikes against it if it's not handled by an extraordinarily talented writer. We’ll see.           

All bets are off, November of 2015. I've found a way to self-publish at no cost,      in money or pride, and I've taken it. "Smashwords" isn't a totally non-profit operation, but they do enable authors to publish their work for sale on all the   major bookselling venues, and they don't charge for doing it. You can't beat that. Anyway, here's a synopsis, and if it interests you --   

                               “Dogpound Manifesto”

An undistinguished young man hijacks a County Animal Control Department truck and frees the animals it’s carrying.
Arnold Frieburg is deeply affected by the animal suffering he sees around him, and his conscience has prodded him into this attempt to relieve at least some small part of it. The act is completely unplanned, done on impulse.
But it commits him; he’s broken the law. Beyond that, though -- it felt good. Why not make it a crusade? He’ll be a sort of invisible avenger, rescuing animal victims by stealth and surprise. He enlists the help of his girlfriend, who enlists her landlady, who enlists a friend...and from here things get out of hand.
As he watches, Arnold’s intended low-profile campaign is taken over by a 1917-vintage revolutionary, a newspaper columnist sympathetic to the cause -- sometimes -- and a motorcycle gang led by a cousin of Godzilla’s. The gang’s search-and-destroy raid on the county dogpound gives Arnold the chance to fling a manifesto into the face of the establishment -- although their later naval engagement with the police on Dennison Park lake will put him in jail.
The Animal Regulation commissioner, a 30-year operative in the civil service/political arena, finds himself in the unaccustomed role of laughingstock as a series of his trucks are hijacked. He doesn’t yet know Arnold, but he’d like to bury him.
The arrest at the city park sets the stage; and to Arnold’s horror, it’s exactly that: a stage setting. His “friends” have engineered a show trial at which he is to put the establishment on trial for its treatment of animals. The biker gang leader now re-appears, transmogrified from leather into pinstripes, and becomes counsel for the defense.
While the legal process moves forward, other plots are playing out. Would-be sinister forces (embodied, luckily, in the person of a not-too-bright jailbird) may be trying to silence Arnold. Humane organizations are taking up the cause, which brings about the seemingly pre-destined meeting of Arnold’s biker/lawyer with the more-than-amply-sized Cat Lady. And the Animal Regulation commissioner’s secretary, plied with Rob Roys by the now-lovestruck newspaper columnist, is blowing a whistle.
The trial has aroused national attention; newspapers are editorializing, and demonstrators picket the courthouse. It’s the absolute opposite of everything Arnold ever intended. Like it or not, though, it is a platform for his ideas. In the course of the trial, the Animal Rights case is made, and opposing ideas are demolished under cross-examination by the defense.

It would be nice to see the case won on that basis, but this is fiction, not fantasy; so it’s won with a rotten, sneaky, under-handed trick that will leave animal lovers, anyway, thoroughly satisfied.
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