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Summer 2016 - An Interview by Charles Rammelkamp

All The Dark We Will Not See
by Michael B. Neff
Serving House Books, 2016
$ 13.95, 332 pages
ISBN: 978-0997101041

The place is Washington, D.C., and the year,1984. The ruthless dictatorship envisioned by George Orwell has not come to pass. Or has it? Under the presidency of a former Hollywood actor, the struggle for America's soul has begun-a trial of conscience and idealism versus idolatry and political dictatorship. The White House and its minions intend to shield the government from real public scrutiny, and with hundreds of billions at stake, any means necessary will be used to protect the corporate mobsters who now pull strings and triggers in every agency from the "Star Wars" Pentagon down to the to the trash collecting GSA. But it won't be easy. A resistance movement composed of rebellious government workers has formed...

A new edition of Michael Neff's novel about whistleblowers in Ronald Reagan's Washington DC of 1984 has just been published by Serving House Books, and with a new title: "All the Dark We Will Not See." A review of this novel will appear in the next issue of The Potomac, but we thought it would be interesting and appropriate to interview Neff on the novel's re-publication, in advance of the review.

TP: First of all, congratulations on the publication of your novel! The new title is much more intriguing. Are there other major revisions?

MN: Thanks! The novel includes cuts to increase momentum, a rearrangement of certain blocks of narrative, a bit of viewpoint juggling, evidence of a hard new look at cultural references, as well as miscellaneous edits from top to bottom. Also, the novel now includes an important Author Preface, and of course, the cover I always wanted.

TP: How has the publication process with Serving House Books differed from your experience with Red Hen Press?

MN: Day and night. The Hen staff made you feel like one of the accused in Kafka's "The Trial." Serving House Books was the polar opposite. They also liked the new cover, unlike the Hens who nixed this same cover without hesitation or explanation. Best of all though, Serving House is promoting the new edition on their front page and throughout the website. When the first edition appeared with Red Hen, it was nowhere to be seen, as if it didn't exist. But it's all old news now. I am extremely proud to have this new edition published by Serving House Books. I'm also in very good company. The press publishes a superior and diverse collection of literary authors and poets. They actually respect their writers! I have to stop pinching myself.

TP: The novel was originally published in 2009, before Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks controversy, Edward Snowden and the expose of NSA secrets. How have these events affected the relevance of the novel? In your preface you say this novel is dedicated to "those who resist.”

MN: If anything, they've made the novel more relevant simply because they've ushered government corruption into the light and universalized it beyond the doings of the Ronald Reagan wizards of 1984 who are the focus of "All The Dark We Will Not See." All in all though, it's hard for corruption to make the news, because like the so-called "war on drugs" it has become stale, and the enormity of it has become surreal. How to begin to define it? Besides, who cares? The importance is lost in the mire of an American news media more focused on Trump's hair and Khloe Kardashian's butt implants.

TP: As an author you weave real places and real people, most notably Ronald and Nancy Reagan, with fictional events that are often dark and surreal. Can you comment on this stylistic choice? How does magic realism figure into the equation?

MN: The magic realism that psychologically interweaves through the narrative, given form by Eden's fear and anger, evolves as the story progresses until at a certain juncture it begins to inexorably meld with reality itself. In that sense, certain characters are affected by the magic realist intervention in their fictional lives; however, Ronny and "The First Nancy" remain unscathed. We see the two of them in the plain light of reality, being goofy and hostile as you would expect. My intent was always to mix real players of that time into the story.

TP: Thank you and good luck with this novel. Is there anything further you'd like to add about "All the Dark We Will Not See"?

MN: Just that I hope it will make some Americans see the world in a way that will eventually lead to a future of actual democracy. I fear the Trump/Clinton pre-election will repeat enough of the political dynamics that made Ronald Reagan president, at least enough to hand the office to Trump. So many hate Hillary that they're fleeing from her, and meanwhile, Hillary continues to self-destruct.

Shine perishing nation.


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