Book Review: Whisky Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer

Whisky Tango Foxtrot David Shafer
Whisky Tango Foxtrot
Author: David Shafer
Genre: Genre Fiction, Smashups/Satire
Copyright: 2014
Publisher: Muholland Books
Pages: 432
ISBN-13: 978-0316252638

I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

I’d like to pull up a chair in David Shafer’s brain and sift through his thoughts that led to the creation of Whisky Tango Foxtrot. The tale rattles the brain out of apathy, prying the eyes open to stare at the on-coming headlights of future societal organization. It’s the type of story that will have you agreeing that signing up for a Prepper’s Camp is a good idea. If coupled with Alena Graedon’s Word Exchange, there’s a chance you’ll go off the grid entirely.

Whisky Tango Foxtrot deals out modern day issues like a poker player on a winning streak: Is the nation-state dead? Will corporations reorganize societies into fiefdoms? Will giving away our personal data on Facebook be the ruin of our economic futures? Are we being monitored by governments and corporations to support dictatorial schemes?

If the description invokes a sort of PTSD of poli-sci classes, the classes that warped each second into an hour, I’ve misled you. Shafer knits the heavy with the light. His wit and turn of phrases remind me most of author Jonathan Tropper’s style of writing.

Whisky Tango Foxtrot twists together three lives into a caper both poignant and fun. Leila Majnoun, the main character, is mired in Myanmar/Burma schlepping for an NGO when she runs across a suspicious event. The plot’s trigger point shoots when Leila jots off an email to her friends about what she saw. The missive cannons an avalanche of events that endanger herself and her family while inadvertently entangling Leila in an evil versus good caballing to reorganize society.

Leo Crane, a savant with bi-polar tendencies, bikes to work because surrendering the drink is too much to bear. When Leo’s not working, he links together several global and corporate events into one heck of a conspiracy theory, a theory he shares via his blog, an action that lands him in a recovery institution.

Mark Deveraux vomits corporate mysticism to proletariat who dream of a higher purpose in their work. If you’ve ever read a substance-less business leadership book full of trite adages, you’ve read something akin to what Mark produces. His trail to fame began with the writing of a business-thought book sponsored by SineCo corporation, one of the corporations Leo marks in his blog as trying to manipulate the world.

The two gentlemen collide with Leila through a series of events primarily focused on Leila’s struggle to clear her family’s name. The uniting of the trio culminates in each character choosing paths that will eventually affect the structure of society.

Shafer’s descriptions palpitate scenes. When describing Leila’s ceiling fan in her Myanmar flat, he writes  “…it whorled and kerchonked around at such an unstable and idiotic rate that what it gave in breeze it took back in worry.” Throughout the book Shafer bends language into universally relatable concepts such as when Leo first enters the recovery institution: “Leo was sitting on another piece of disempowering institutional furniture, a too-low, too-high-sided, tautly upholstered chair that encouraged surrender.” Who hasn’t sat in furniture just like this, but without the precise words to describe it? My notes covered sixteen typed pages, most filled with sentences like “The rest of the world just avoided this place, as on the street you’d avoid a stinking, pantsless drunk – because where would you even begin?” I loved Shafer’s words as much as I loved his story.

Data privacy, corporate totalitarianism, globalization, modern colonialism, and socialism boil in the pages of Whisky Tango Foxtrot. I recommend you grab a copy of the book, ladle into the soup Shafer’s so artfully whipped up, and, after you read the last line, meet me at the Prepper’s Camp.


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