Literature & Protest – Exclusive Excerpt

On literature and protest

Featuring a mild-mannered high school English teacher in the midst of a divorce and mid-life crisis, The Mansion of Our Undressing is the fourth book in the Heretics in Occupied Eden series. In this exclusive excerpt, Henry experiments with off-curriculum reading for his students that attempts to challenge their ideas about the need for protest in the political landscape of a post-9/11 United States. It shows in stark relief the shift in perceptions about patriotism and protest from the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq to today.

Henry taught English at Prickly Pear High School in central Phoenix. Often over the years he experienced urges to ditch his lesson plans and take his students on dangerous cerebral journeys through beautiful and subversive literature, through wild stretches of Walt Whitman and John Dos Passos, William Blake and D. H. Lawrence, but having failed assertiveness training and being attached to a regular paycheck, he stuck faithfully to the approved curriculum that bored him and his students alike.

Lately, however, radical thoughts had been escaping the dark corners of his mind with greater frequency, and one day, feeling painfully frustrated with the recent preemptive invasion of Iraq, which he believed to be terribly wrongheaded, he introduced an extracurricular poem to his senior English classes. This was Robinson Jeffers’ “Shine, Perishing Republic.” Henry hoped to elicit a bit of reflection about national hubris, decadence, and jingoism.

“What do you make of Jeffers’ image of America as vulgar and ‘heavily thickening to empire’?” he asked for discussion.

But they did not think of America as vulgar and decided Jeffers was a pessimist.

“What are your thoughts about Jeffers’ description of protest as a bubble that pops and sighs out?” he continued.

These students thought protest was something that their grandparents’ generation had done forty or fifty years ago, but didn’t think present day realities called for protest. One student instructed Henry that this was a post 9-11 world where the need for patriotism trumped the selfish desires of protesters.

This was his last foray into unauthorized literature.

Henry felt the urge to flee to some remote precinct and abstain from watching his beloved republic perish. And one fine day a great temptation to pursue that retreat from society burst into consciousness and overwhelmed his superego.

In late April Henry Fife sold his furnished house in the trendy Palmcroft Historic District on a rising market and two weeks later spent the entire proceeds on a whim. He bought an estate situated at the end of two miles of dirt road fifteen miles southeast of Camp Verde. It was a hundred miles north of Phoenix as the crow flies, one hundred twenty for those needing roads.

More About The Mansion of Our Undressing

Since childhood, Henry had wanted to be a nudist but never dared to do it. During a mid-life crisis, the shy high school English teacher sought to fulfill his dream of living without clothes by impulsively buying a reputedly haunted house in a remote part of Arizona’s Verde Valley. But how is he going to explain this to his family?

Amidst his nude idyll, Henry picks up extrasensory signals in certain parts of the house, signals of great joy mingled with deep sadness. Captivated by male and female auras radiating in various rooms, he seeks to discover their identities. Unknown to Henry, two bloody deaths occurred at the mansion a century earlier. Will his intuitive powers be enough for him to unravel this tragic mystery? And what should he make of the abandoned Indian sweat lodge in the woods to the east? Members of the nearby Yavapai Tribe, amused by Henry’s naturism, provide him information about the sweat lodge and the eccentric millionaire who built the mansion.

This companion novel to the Heretics in Occupied Eden series has new characters plus a few familiar old ones in supporting roles. It can be enjoyed independently of the earlier books but offers more riches to those who have read them.

Get Book Four of the Heretics in Occupied Eden series, The Mansion of Our Undressing here!

Read more exclusive excerpts from the series:

Book One – The Floating Boy Discovering Metaphysics

Book Two – The Strange AngelsEstablishing Gender Studies

Book Three – The Dancing ChurchDiscovering a Connection

Book Seven – Emma Round & the Holy RowlingsHarry Potter Trivia Night

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