Steve Masover is a gripping novel, focusing on Christopher Kalman and his household of San Francisco political activists, who are losing faith in the effectiveness of their street protests. The novel traces strains on their non-violent principles as the household confronts challenges they are ill-prepared to negotiate, most dramatically Christopher’s recruitment by a shadowy figure to act more radically than he ever has before.
The novel’s plot is interleaved with thoughtful philosophical musing on the effectiveness of political demonstrations and civil disobedience, and the consequences of these and actions that go much further. The meditations don’t slow down the fast-paced momentum or the novel’s climactic denouement. Overall, Consequence poses serious questions to readers concerning what role one ought to play to be a responsible citizen.
That said, this novel was not a political lecture or polemic; rather, its focus was the characters and the intricate relationships of ordinary people who work day jobs, involve themselves in political issues, raise kids, care for families and communities, and struggle with the mundane issues everyone must attend to, whether they are politically active or not.
Through the taut and accelerating course of the events, we discover much about the vividly-drawn characters’ moral uprightness, outrage, dilemmas, self-doubt, and even despair. Their powerful adversaries are described palpably and convincingly. Readers are given a chance to see through their perspective, both as singular individuals, and as a chosen family or collective.
Masover’s language is economical and devoid of sentimentality, yet full of wonderful turns of phrases. I was reminded of the desert of Arizona: the beauty of the prose lies in its desolation and sparseness, and it is well-matched to the heart-rending story. The book’s ending made me feel lost and small, yet gave just enough of a flicker of hope to keep me warm.
I received a free, advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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