Radio Free Vermont : A Fable of Resistance by Bill McKibben

radio free vermontIt’s a new era, a new administration, with a cultural mentality where big is better and corporate sameness the norm.  All these factors drive Vern Barclay to distraction.

For many years, Vern has been a radio news personality in his corner of Vermont, extolling the unique qualities that have made his native state what it is.  Local breweries and dairies?  He’s all about them.  New Walmarts and Starbucks?  Not so much.

Dismayed by climate change and the state of the union, not to mention cuts in funding and the aforementioned other problems of today’s society, Vern goes “underground”, working with young computer whiz Perry Alterson to broadcast his views and occasionally, stage certain “mishaps” that others might interpret as crimes.  Ultimately, Vern’s message is for Vermont to secede from the United States.

The powers that be think they are on to Vern, but, helped by Perry and a few other colorful misfits (including a former Olympic biathlon champion), Vern manages to elude the authorities and create more mayhem – maybe more so than he had intended.

Radio Free Vermont is a light-hearted romp that takes on big business, environmental issues, and blustering government officials alike.  The character of Vern Barclay strikes me as a Garrison Keillor type, a droll commentator who oversees the happenings of a place that he loves very much, and a proponent of the “good old days” who is hip enough to accept local artisanal butter but not watery corporate beer.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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