Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Book Review: 'The American Middle Class Revolution' by M. Bryce Ternet

Indiana-born Idaho author M. Bryce Ternet has experienced many climes, having lived in Montana, Paris, the French Basque Country, Burgundy, Chicago, Washington state, Washington DC, and on California's Monterey Peninsula: food for many stories. His degrees are in Political Science and French and a Master's degree in International Environmental Policy. Bryce’s genres reflect his global exposure – he writes historical fiction, thrillers, paranormal stories, psychological themes, reflections on contemporary society, travelogues as well as articles on food and wine!

Written in 1913 THE AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS REVOLUTION, Bryce’s focus is on a psychological coming of age theme reflecting his penchant for painting with keen observation of the effects of our society on the young people as they move into adulthood. And given the time of the writing, his book seems as though it stepped out of today’s clime. In a telling and insightful Prologue Bryce states – ‘Go ahead and do it! Slap that NC-17 indecent content label on this tale and get it over with. Within these pages lies a retelling of a life experience, one of mine actually, that will be viewed by many as graphic and possibly even as that dirty word obscene. Anyone under the confused age of 17 may not be able to comprehend the gravity of what may be revealed in these following pages. I say may be revealed, as everything is open to personal interpretation. Although, perhaps we should remove that NC-17 label after all, as even though there is some foul language, some vivid sexual descriptions, and some mild-to-better-than-mild substance abuse, who are we kidding? Kids these days know more about sex, violence, and drugs at younger ages than anyone is prepared to admit. Just look at the video games that ensnare them. These games not only inundate them with violence, they go farther and display substance abuse and even sex! Yeah, parents ̶̶ ̶ just watch what your kids are playing for once, and you’ll believe me. Further, those tender and eager young adolescent minds could actually save themselves future years of torment by pulling back the curtain of ignorance that blinds us all and confronting life head-on, instead of waiting for it to reach out with its sometimes cold and scathing fingers to envelop them in confusion and despair. It’s decided then. Let the teenagers read this book, if they can find the time in between tweeting, texting, facebooking, chatting, gaming, and generally doing anything that they believe could [annoy] their parents. Hint to adolescents: Reading this book may actually achieve that aforementioned goal… Why did I write this book? I live in America, I’m deeply rooted and forever bound in the lower middle class (hopelessly bound, actually)… Maybe I’m not Holden Caulfield (I’m really not!), but I feel like a stranger in a strange land. My name is Ricky I. Peters, my eyes are open, and I want to start a revolution…’

The synopsis prepares us for the plot – ‘The American Middle Class Revolution is an edgy analysis of modern society conveyed through the eyes of an average, non-exceptional young man working in a non-descript diner that could be located in any major U.S. city. The story, a blend of introspection and observation, is conveyed by Ricky I. Peters and his unfolding thoughts are influenced by those surrounding him, including a nymphomaniac girlfriend, an eclectic close group of companions, and most importantly, four habitual customers at his diner. Beginning with just another day at work, Ricky begins to notice that his journey into viewing the world around him from slightly different angles opens his eyes as they have never been before. Part spiritual and intellectual investigation of Ishmael, part raw grit of Fight Club, and part experimental narrative, The American Middle Class Revolution strikes at an assortment of modern society’s most praised core values, and like Ricky, encourages the reader to question them as well.’

It is obvious we are in the presence of an important American writer who manages to lock us into his fine story and while being placed in the suspense mode, allows us to appreciate quality prose. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, April 18

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.