By: Jyllian Roach, Editor-In-Chief
Aside from the controversy of trying to capitalize on an anti-capitalism movement, there are a lot of problems with local author Robert P. Francis’ almost-novella “Occupying Dissent”.
At some point in every writer’s career, usually when the writer is around 14 years old, she gets so excited about a story idea that she writes it down, but focus only on the cool parts and ignores character development, plot, grammar, story detail and basically everything else needed to make a story readable and enjoyable. “Occupying Dissent” reads like that sort of story.
The 86-page book blends events of the Occupy Albuquerque movements and the fictional tale of Andrew and Leela Torrez, twenty-something cardboard cutouts who move to Albuquerque after Andrew loses his job with a non-descript company whose unnamed higher-ups are paring down the number of employees to fatten profits.
The book suffers from the same problem that nearly all self-published pieces do — a complete lack of editing. The editing process is supposed to help refine a story; to fix grammatical errors, and find the spots that need more or less writing. “Dissent” would have benefitted from all of those functions. The grammar errors are so rampant that they bog down the reader, while the story itself is unfocused and reads like a rush job.
While it is not uncommon for authors to take creative liberties with historical events in the process of storytelling, a one-year-old movement and the events that created it hardly seem to fit the mold of historic.
Regardless, Francis uses actual events and thinly disguised actual members of the movement. The lack of character development made it seem more like Francis wanted to make some sort of personal statement about the people he included, rather than recreate them as characters for the book.
Leela Torrez is Andrew’s pregnant wife. She seems to have no real motivations or ideas of her own. She’s ridiculously submissive — so much so that she suggests having an abortion with the same amount of emotion one would employ to suggest throwing out spoiled milk.
Andrew Torrez is supposed to be some sort of idealist liberal who somehow ended up working for a big bad company. He has no back story and his sudden and fierce connection to the Occupy movement is unexplained and irrational.
The story’s end is probably what got Francis so excited to write in the first place. It has far more detail than any other point of the story, which actually makes it predictable and belabored. The relevance and emotion of the scene is lost entirely because of the lack of development. It is impossible to give a crap about caricatures of people.
The CNM Chronicle felt this book was a waste of time, and warns those who decide to read it that it may actually kill a number of important and irreplaceable brain cells.