ADAM MICHAEL LUEBKE
(editor’s note: I wrote this review at Amazon, and what was supposed to be a quick blurb turned into a short article. It’s not a great review, but it does highlight what I liked about The United States of Air, by J.M. Porup — to get your free copy of the ebook, click here)
After reading the first chapter of J.M. Porup’s new satire, The United States of Air, I thought, this is going to be wacky. A global war on fat? Waged by America? Destroy all food? Live by eating air alone? By the second chapter I was hooked.
The Prophet takes America by storm. Announces if elected he would begin a worldwide war on food, and that eating is the basic source of all America’s woes. It doesn’t take very many pages for the reader to understand how skilled Porup is, and how easily he constructs and maintains a fictional, parallel America that highlights the absurdity of our modern day United States.
The US of Air is tightly written. Slowly, but satisfyingly, the hypocrisy of the Global War on Fat is revealed. The double standard for the military, for the NSA, and for the Prophet’s own security forces. While the 99 percent (if you will) in America suffers, the elite forces carry on with their duplicity.
Despite the humor, the book is bleak. While Porup’s satire is funny and written almost lightheartedly, it is clear at once the author follows and has a profound understanding of America’s political system, their wars on drugs and terror, the country’s inflated military presence throughout the world, the illogical propaganda on television, and just how oblivious an entire country of people can be.
Porup seamlessly addresses indefinite detention. Internment camps. The overrun surveillance state. The fake War on Drugs. The never ending War on Terror. The bin Laden styled bogeyman responsible for all of America’s hardships and failures. The impoverished American masses. And a frightening and ubiquitous NSA surveillance state that “wiretaps” your toilet instead of your phones.
I like the absurdity of it all. The absolute silliness of not eating food, but learning to eat air, and living with faith that it is sustaining. The book’s protagonist, Special Agent Frolick, describes the Prophet’s endeavor, “And by eliminating the source of all these evils, and enforcing a zero-calorie air-only diet, we turn our country into a city on a hill, a light in the darkness, a beacon that other nations may follow on their own journeys down the Superhighway of Purity and Air” (8).
Of course, that is very much what we do in this country. Pick the most absurd belief systems, and pretend that the world hates us for them, and that we must persevere despite what alllogic tells us, and then change the world (by force) to follow. As the book’s byline reads: “The War on Drugs. The War on Terror. The War on Fat. Wars only America can win.”
That’s always the point, isn’t it? The most intelligent thing a player can do is redesign the game and rewrite the rules in a way in which only he can thrive, and then enforce those rules until all the competition has dried up.
Meanwhile, theentire country and its population withers, while the fat cats on top live by a double standard and profit off the corruption and tyranny.
But don’t think Porup is all politics and absurdity—he greatly capitalizes on his lavish descriptions of various foods and feasts (contraband in the US of Air), which is fitting since most Americans, in this world, would literally kill to have a meal.