With a nod to the chemically-induced contentment of Huxley’s Brave New World, “American Soma” explains how a friction-filled democratic system is lubricated by a collusion of partisan politicians and commercial interests. “Evolution”, written during the Dover Area School District ’s Intelligent Design Trials, describes the adaptations caused by mankind’s heavy reliance on synthetic hormones and toxic polymers. Twenty other fables and letters explore alternate histories, the colonial nature of late capitalism, pained yet comic souls, the obsessions of lucid maniacs, and an imagined advance towards the Apocalypse. Concerned and politically aware, Guz examines the lurking evils of contemporary society and the darker corners of human nature.
Savannah Schroll gives an overview of the book:
It was true that Boone did not know his parents. He knew neither the circumstances of his birth nor the reason for his abandonment. He simply appeared, like so many children born during the Depression, on the steps of a Catholic Church in Steubenville, Ohio. Little more than a month old, or so the nuns deduced, he had been swaddled in a homemade quilt that had gone stiff and brown from the absorption of a large amount of blood. However, everyone noted that he was well fed and fully developed for a child of his supposed age.
“Perhaps,” said one sister, looking down at the little boy who stretched and squirmed while succumbing to an inaudible yawn, “this was the quilt he was born on.”
“Perhaps,” said the priest, standing some distance away and keeping his own hands hygienically protected inside the wide sleeves of his red robe. It was Pentecost, and he had been preparing for early mass when the child was found.
“We’ll baptize him today, Father?”
“Clean him up first and then we’ll discuss preparations.”
But Boone was not baptized that day, or any other day after that. The priest calmly pushed the nuns’ pleadings aside. He made excuses, offered them placating but elliptical promises. And so Boone was neither saved nor, as he would often hear during the tent revival tirades of a Pentecostal preacher his adoptive mother took him to see some years later, assured a place in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The frightening suggestion of violence intimated by his swaddling quilt was, shortly after his discovery, nearly forgotten. And the inauspicious article was quickly burned with other rectory garbage. Before igniting, its interior cotton batting (also crusted with desiccated hemoglobin) flared as if it were saturated with accelerant. It lay, crackling and snapping, in the ruined cinders of betting sheets and erotic stereoscope cards furtively cast off by the priest earlier that morning.
-- From "North American Twilight"
About Savannah Schroll
Savannah Schroll Guz holds a Master's Degree from the University of Pittsburgh. In 1997-1998, she was a Fulbright Scholar and worked as a correspondence translator for Bavaria's Prince von Hohenzollern. Currently, she is a regular contributor to Library Journal,...
Frequently in the short stories in American Soma, Savannah Schroll Guz describes a near-future just slightly distinct from our present.
It's a fallen world where a government surreptitiously drugs...