Writers and producers are less interested in invention than in proving what Griffis calls their “€œKool Kids Kred”€ with easy mockery; a recurring theme of his is the stupid cruelty of cool. “€œAs a writer, when I encounter this stuff, it offends me: Somebody got paid to write this shit?”€

He doesn”€™t think his colleagues at Liberty Island are doomed to be a reverse image of the literary mainstream. Their ideal is something less creatively bankrupt. Griffis uses Jamie Wilson’s “€œBiscuit Boy“€”€”in which buyer’s regret over an abortion goes horribly weird”€”as an example. “€œThe worldview or Jamie’s personal feelings were an organic part of the story,”€ says Griffis. “€œThey were not jammed in as lazily and predictably as the “€˜dusky skinned villain”€™ would have been in the pulps of the 30s”€”and as people of faith and conservative values are in today’s junk.

“€œI suspect many readers are just looking for good stories that don”€™t, along the way, suggest they are stupid racist sexist haters of the Earth and all that is good and right for holding certain beliefs, faith practices, or values.”€

The Hands of Men series particularly excels at good yarns with good characters. When the protagonist of the first volume, a World War I nurse named Charlotte Braninov, meets the love interest”€”known at first only as “€œher knight”€”€”it’s her first day at a CCS, or casualty clearing station, the makeshift medical bloodbath just behind the trenches where the mangled warriors are first brought for death or triage. Circumstance, as it does to most of Griffis’s characters, shakes Charlotte’s faith in God and man to the core.

And yet the heroine and her knight never waver in their faith in cordial reserve, civility, and the mutual admiration of chivalry. Robert Fitzgerald is the officer with a broken arm who calmly helps her hold a soldier’s severed artery together while she performs her first surgery in the absence of a doctor. The clarity and mastery of this scene should be enough to bury the “€œmeet cute”€ trope forever, but I fear the Muses will go on punishing us with that one till we”€™re all dead of nausea.

The themes in Lonesome George are more overtly political. Since we still have dogs in that fight, it’s hard to look at modern jihads sub specie aeternitatis; it would be too superhuman, in fact, to be literary. But Griffis uses the apocalypse for character development as well. As the self-imagined heroism of political warriors deflates when the chips are down, the ranch hands, rednecks (including a young bulimic redneck), and gun-toting junkies spring into three-dimensional compassion as they rescue spoiled Congresswomen, blow away child molesters, and keep a light on in a dark age.

Most refreshing.

The first volume of By the Hands of Men is available here. Pre-orders for the Lonesome George series are here.

Griffis also performs political satire with the Right-Wing Riot under the moniker “€œthe Prince of Whitebread.”€


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