This month’s TIR Bookshelf looks at three independently published books by three conservative Iowa writers.
“Indie” publishing is changing the face of the publishing industry. The number of indie books grew to more than 391,000 titles in 2012, an increase of 59 percent from 2011. Indie books provide a mechanism for many authors to get their texts in front of readers and to avoid the nearly impossible route of getting a book published through the mainline houses.
All three of these books are available in traditional print form and can be purchased through your local bookshop or on Amazon, and all three are available for download on your Kindle or desktop.
Nathan Tucker is a skilled op-ed writer and many of his articles have been published in The Iowa Republican. A Davenport lawyer, Tucker recently penned a satire novella, Julia’s Christmas Carol. Using the theme of Dickens’ famous Christmas story, Tucker tells the tale of Julia, a faceless one-dimensional cartoon character introduced to America by the Obama administration in “The Life of Julia.” We first met Julia in a 2012 campaign slide show that told us about her life, from age 3 to 67, and how the president’s policies were “helping” women just like her from cradle-to-grave with preschool, Pell grants, birth control and Medicare.
Tucker’s version begins with the death of Marlee, Julia’s business partner. Julia and Marlee have been hip liberal women who have believed in the largess of big government to take care of everything.
Julia is visited by Marlee’s ghost who comes to warn Julia to turn from her shallow, secular, and government-dependent ways and to offer her a chance at not only redemption, but of real independence. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, Julia is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Each ghost allows Julia to see a wider-angle view of the effects of government redistribution than she had previously allowed herself to consider.
As Julia comes to understand that her life has been subsidized by the sacrifice of many middle-class working people who had been mandated by the government to surrender their hard earned wages to the tax man, she must face the reality that redemption comes through what Tucker calls “the arduous journey of repentance.” She must acknowledge the error of her ways, feel remorse and vow to sin no more. Learning the meaning of true charity in contrast to coerced “giving” mandated by the tax code, Julia also learns that what government gives, it can take away, limit or ration.
Tucker’s tale of Julia follows the predictable pattern of Dickens’ story updated as a political tale of the consequence of the liberal nanny state. It is a fun, quick read sure to put a smile across the face of those who have grown weary of government beneficence at the expense of the American tax payer.
Author Steve Sherman takes on today’s Second Amendment debate in Mercy Shot, a novel about an Iowa man who has a concealed carry permit. One Sunday morning Josh Sackett is confronted with an active shooter situation at his church. After hearing shots ring out in the lobby, Sackett responds to protect his family and fellow congregants. What follows is a fast-paced legal and political drama. Witnesses don’t always see everything that happens, and not all witnesses see things exactly the same way. To some Sackett is a hero, to others he is just another man with a gun.
Sherman tells the tale almost entirely in dialogue, a difficult genre to write in, but one that allows him to explore the various voices in the Second Amendment debate, from the politicians who don’t want to let a crisis go to waste to the NRA lawyer who steps in to manage Sackett’s case as he is charged with first degree murder for killing the shooter. While Sackett’s case goes on trial, one of the members of the county board of supervisors pushes to have the county ban all firearms. Sherman has situated his story in Johnson County, the home of the University of Iowa, to accentuate the divide between conservatives and liberals over gun rights and Constitutional protections.
Mercy Shot would make an excellent springboard for a book club or a conservative breakfast group interested in digging into the gun control debate taking place across the country.
Life After: A Biography is Brent Hoffman’s poignant memoire of his wife’s life and her death at age 44 following cancer in 2009. Mary Jo and her husband had been married for 11 years and their two children, Silas and Lydia, were 8 and 6 at the time of her death.
Hoffman’s book begins with the stories the courtship of Mary Jo’s grandparents and her parent’s romance. Mary Jo was a girl from Chariton, Iowa who landed a job working for Chuck Grassley in Washington, D.C. a year after graduating from the University of Northern Iowa. Hoffman, a native of Anthon and the son of former Iowa Republican Party Chairman, was a captain in Air Force who had been selected for a fellowship program at the Pentagon and George Washington University. The couple first met at church in 1996, and were married two years later. Throughout their married lives, faith would play a central role in their relationship and in facing hardships.
After being stationed in Greece for a year, Hoffman was assigned to the Pentagon and was there on the morning of September 11, 2001 when American Airlines flight 77 crashed just 615 feet from his office. Several weeks later, Washington dealt with the anthrax scare, and the following year the community was terrorized by the murders of 10 people over three weeks by the “beltway sniper.” Following the birth of their second child in 2002, and her diagnosis of Type 1 juvenile diabetes as a one-year old, the Hoffmans decided it was time to leave Washington, and move home to Iowa.
The couple bought a home in Sioux City where Brent’s parents owned a restaurant and a gift shop and they settled into life raising their children. Hoffman started a real estate firm, became a licensed contractor, and with Mary Jo’s support and encouragement, he was elected to the city council. Then in 2007, Mary Jo was diagnosed with cancer.
Hoffman’s book richly details the couple’s experience with the diagnosis and the treatments, the trips to the Mayo Clinic, the cancer’s spread and the role of faith throughout the ordeal. It is a bittersweet story of love and life. In reading the book, it is evident that Hoffman poured his heart and soul into writing as both therapy for himself and as a legacy for Silas and Lydia. Anyone who has walked the journey of a terminal illness with a loved one will find Hoffman’s book both comforting and inspirational.
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