by Teri Williams
I want to write the next Great American Novel. But first, I should probably figure out what constitutes a Great American Novel. What do they all have in common? Well, for one, Great American Novels are typically about by-gone days. They also tackle profound issues. Perhaps mine should be set in the eighties and featuring the AIDS epidemic. Also, in accordance with other Great American Novels, my book must make obvious statements about these profound issues, such as, “Not cool, AIDS. Not cool.” That is paraphrased, obviously.
I brainstormed for quite a while about this idea and what my Great American Novel could be about, but then I decided that instead of creating something of my own (because, let’s face it—that takes a lot of work), I could take little snippets from past Great American Novels and put them all together to form something new. So, without further ado, here is the synopsis for my next book:
The main character, Nick “Huckleberry” Slothrop, lost his family and farm in a great drought after a great war broke out. Deciding to travel west in search of work, Huck builds a raft and floats it down the river. He lands, somewhere farther west, and finds employment at a mysterious farm, named ACHTUNG, run by an extremely rich husband and wife, Benjamin and Hester Gatsby.
The farm’s mysteriousness is two-fold. Firstly, no one is sure what is produced on the farm. There are fields of wheat, rye, and potatoes, and lots of rumors that Mr. Gatsby is a bootlegger, but no hard core evidence. Secondly, the farm is also mysterious because there are telescreens in all the break rooms and bathrooms that warns against thought-crimes and has a picture of Ben Gatsby with the caption “B is watching YOU.”
Huck is put up in a cabin with two bunkmates, Piggy Small (a mentally-handicapped, obese man who is obsessed with children hurting themselves in the neighboring rye field) and Lord Tom Yossarian (a Jewish black man who escaped from the war when his plan of pretending to be insane did not pan out like he had hoped).
Every Saturday night, the Gatsbys throw huge parties, unknowingly enticing Huck who finds fancy clothes, cleans himself up, and attends them. No one recognizes him, and Gatsby’s wife, Hester, begins to take a romantic interest in him. They have an affair for several weeks before she discovers that 1.) Huck is a worker on her husband’s farm, and 2.) She is pregnant. Hester is very distressed by the pregnancy, because Ben is sterile and will know she was sleeping around. She goes to Huck’s cabin to tell him she plans on having an abortion. In the cabin is Piggy, by himself. He thinks that she is so pretty that he won’t let her leave the cabin. They struggle briefly where he pushes her away from the door—harder than he realizes—and she falls and dies. Lord Tom comes in at that moment and tries to cover up what Piggy did, but Hester’s body is discovered, and Lord Tom is falsely accused and arrested for her rape and murder.
Huck and Piggy try to come to the defense of Lord Tom, but in the middle of a dramatic courtroom scene, Piggy thinks he hears children in the rye field. He runs off, trips over a misplaced conch shell, and plummets off the cliff on the edge of the field to his splattery death. Huck, grief-stricken, botches his final monologue and loses the case. Lord Tom is taken to Room 101 for reconditioning and Huck gets back on his raft and floats down the river, growing increasingly insane due to depression and a lack of food. He becomes convinced that he is being followed by a large, white whale that he must kill to redeem himself for his past sins.
Epilogue: a captain named Marlow regales his men with a sordid tale of how he met a crazy man in the jungle who had convinced a tribe of savage natives that he was the whale god.
Every other chapter will have nothing to do with the story, but will be a metaphor on life and will feature a dinosaur. While Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” isn’t a Great American Novel, it is still a dang good story.
I smell a Pulitzer.