|Gregory Alan Norton (center on one knee) blocking trucks in Illinois 1994|
|A Rare Example of Polemical Fiction that Works|
| Online review of There Ain't No Justice, Just Us by Jeffrey Ellis, a top 500 reviewer, first published at Amazon.com on April 4, 2002. For more on Ellis - http://jeffellisonline.com.
There Ain't No Justice, Just Us (which is, I might add, a great title) is the story of David, a veteran of the '60s protest movement, who now finds himself living out of place and time in an impersonal Chicago. Just as the city seems to be slowly dying, so has David's once firm faith in Marxism. Unlike his former comrades, David has remained an activiist and as a result, his marriage is crumbling, and he risks seeing his children taken away from him. Hoping to rediscover his political faith, David takes a job at Chicago Lard, a Hellish factory, where he helps to organize the racially divided workers into organizing a strike that leads them into increasingly heated conflict with both their bosses and their own union. There Ain't No Justice, Just Us is an unabashedly political novel. It wears its Marxist sympathies on its sleeve and, like a modern Upton Sinclair, author Gregory Alan Norton peppers his plot with scenes in which his characters discuss and defend socialism against premature of the movement's death. What sets Norton's novel apart from other political novels is that Norton never allows his ideology to overwhelm his story or characters. As opposed to other Marxist writers, Norton allows his politics to come through the character as opposed to crudely shaping his characters to force them to conform to political theory. As a result, Norton is an honest enough writer to create human capitalists and flawed socialists instead of creating a black-and-white polemic. Ranging from his own sometimes rather crude narrator to the strikers' flamboyant attorney, Lexy, (who comes across as everything Bella Abzug was supposed to be) to the book's most complicated character, a Neo-Nazi mechanic who turns out to be the most committed striker as well as the least trustworthy, the book is full of memorable and vivid characters who capture the reader's interest. Whether or not one agrees with Norton's politics (and, as my other reviews should make obvious, I am one hundred eighty degrees to the right of the author) its hard not to care about these characters and impossible not to become emotionally involved in the outcome of their struggle. This is a book that I would recommend to any open minded reader interested in modern political fiction - one need not agree with Norton to admire the craft and skill which which he delivers his message. Gregory Alan Norton is not a household name and There Ain't No Justice, Just Us is an independently published, "underground" book However, that doesn't change the fact that Norton has managed to pull off what so many more bestselling authors have continually failed to accomplish. He has written a proudly and defiant left-wing novel tht can impress and enthrall even as right-wing reader as myself.
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