But Indiana holds its own political ambitions, contestants, and challenges. Fast forward to high school political candidates Matthew and his novice opponent Britain as they run for office. While their campaign would seem to affect little outside of the school, one history teacher believes that the winner is destined to change America.
As Brit and Matthew struggle both with each other and the future of their high school and nation, the town of Hawthorn becomes a microcosm representing political approaches, ambitions, and threats.
Michael R. French is adept at capturing the nuances of this process as the candidates cultivate different approaches to the ultimate goal of winning: "Someone can call himself a winner, but does that make him a winner? How much do you really know about my chief competitor? Read his Wiki page carefully. Demand transparency from Team Matthew, because that’s what I’m giving you—the whole truth and nothing but. I’ve just been called a sorcerer. I can prove otherwise. If I were really a sorcerer, I would have made my opponent disappear. Instead, I’ll give him another chance to come clean and reveal who he really is."
Brit faces intimidation, scare tactics, hackers, and the lure of breaking rules herself, and thus the race to win becomes a mirror image of America's failing moral and ethical systems as the goal becomes more important than the methods used to achieve it.
Brit's evolutionary process is nicely detailed in a story that follows her influences, decisions, and growth. French is especially astute at depicting the give-and-take of a no-holds-barred competition: "What were the odds of a ceasefire holding? The spoils of winning seemed too grand for anyone to gamble on peace for very long."
As Team Matthew's mentors, followers, and campaign ramp up, Brit assesses the price tag of buying loyalty and the deep rifts created in the community by a run for student body president that becomes replete with corruption and moral and ethical challenges.
Manipulation and covert operations permeate the election and influence Brit's growth as she searches for a way to reign in the greed and ruthlessness that threaten future endeavors and the underlying meaning of PTE (Prosperity Through Education, a nonprofit corporation registered for political fundraising which appears to hold powers beyond its stated intentions).
Realistic, engrossing, and politically intriguing, Cliffhanger is about the kinds of social, political, and interpersonal abysses faced not just by individuals, but institutions and society as a whole.
Cliffhanger will delight political thriller readers who will find its social and political commentary shrewdly thought-provoking.
Published in the "New Mexican
Everything he produces has an entertaining story with a deep and compelling underlying message. Which shows up, naturally, in his latest book, Cliff Hanger : Jump Before You Get Pushed. Dearest Readers, perhaps you joined the Jean Cocteau Cinema’s Virtual Author Event last January and you heard Michael discussing Cliff Hanger. The gist of the story is thus: In 2030, viruses, spy drones, terrorism and joblessness have eroded American optimism. People want something to believe in. As demonstrated in a Midwest high school election, politics have taken on the inflexibility and dogma of a new religion. Only true believers will survive and prosper. Or so they think.
There, Creampuffs, that should pique your interest. Michael is not only and author, he is also the father of two adult children, an avid high-altitude mountain trekker, and a collector of first editions of 20th-century fiction. But he is most famous in Santa Fe for his long business career in real estate, having been a partner with his wife, Pat French, in French & French Fine Properties, the prestigious boutique agency that is defunct but never forgotten. And now you know … the rest of the story.
So long, Sweetpeas. Until next time…
Watched Anderson Cooper narrate an hour TV primer on QAnon (“Q”). Anderson (know as "A Cooper” on the deep web) was trying to reason with a man who wrote the commentator that he wanted to execute him (exact reasons were unclear). A fallback for Q is promising to execute evil celebrities; that seems to up recruitment numbers. There’s more. Did anyone know there was a tunnel running underground from the Vatican to Jerusalem? That a cabal of child-molesting liberals (Republicans and Democrats) suck blood from small children to gain special powers? Every decade, our country has prophets of revolution and conspiracy theorists. The American Nazi Party in the Thirties. The John Birch Society in the Fifties. The Tea Party Republican wing starting in 2010. Today, social media changes the game in so many ways that we should pay close attention. Q flourishes because too many Americans need to express their rage over being left out and left behind. The absurd conspiracy claims come from the manipulators What’s real is the fear and frustration of those craving leadership and believe they have to settle for the loudest voice.
>> I’m hoping the Pandemic ebbs soon, Congress pays a $15 hourly minimum wage, and America gets busy with infrastructure and climate change. That’s something we should all be able to get behind.
Mr. French's manner of story telling is unique and his writing masterful and precise. I feel I'm being mesmerized bass I read- if that can be possible - as if I'm watching a painting being made, brush strokes by brush stroke. His style is invisible, he is not standing between the reader and the story. And the story seems to materialize out of itself.
Mr. French's #1 talent as a writer is his way of generating living, breathing characters. I became aware of his flair for this about half way through the book. I had been reflecting upon what I had just read when I realized that I have a high definition image of the main character, Brit, and that I have no recollection of reading lengthy passages that describe her in such fine detail. My dawning was this: she was assembled by me from lots of little pieces, unrelated quirks, gestures, stray thoughts. Perhaps this is the same mechanism that we use when we come to "know" someone, that we form a composite from the bits and pieces of what we observe. Here we areaquainted with High School seniors in the process of sifting and solidifying the traits that will define their future roles. The readers are on a parallel course with that of the characters, we are aquiring an ever increasing detailed image of them as they gain deeper understanding of themselves. In one memorable scene, we become more familiar with Nathan through the eyes of Brit as she clandestinely surveys the contents of his bedroom through a closed window. His possessions help us to understand the diverse factors influencing his internal make up, subtle hints ,that become obvious with hindsight , of the ingredients that will flavor his unfolding personality disorders. Here, Mr. French's fluid manner of description is cinematic, successfully emulating that of Hitchcock in the opening scene of Rear Window.
Cliffhanger is a purely fun-to-read novel. We become witness to aspects of average American High School life coalesce into a promise of a greater future, one that they will play a part in designing.
Date: 01/10 Time: 4pm
Michael R. French discusses his latest book.
"Cliff HangerJump Before You Get Pushed"
n 2030, viruses, spy drones, terrorism, and joblessness have eroded American optimism. People want something to believe in. As demonstrated in a Midwest high school election, politics have taken on the inflexibility and dogma of a new religion. Only true believers will survive and prosper. Or so they think.
Pass the envelope. And the winner is…the voter.
Specifically, millions of new voters, many of whom were in their teens and twenties, stormed the barricades. The #neveragain and other movements of the last four years were great motivators. In my generation, most of us didn’t vote until our thirties, if then, finally figuring out that politics matter. So what was different this time? Metaphorically speaking, a lot of us of all ages and races felt that democracy had come down with COVID, and unless we voted, no one could be sure it would survive. The 65% voter turnout was, I believe, a record for an American presidential election. May the tree of democracy continue to grow. America used to be known principally for its military and economic might. Now, there is additional power to harvest for the world to see. One voice, one vote, to start the list.
In my modest new novel Cliffhanger, it’s 2030 and America is going through tough times again. An 18 year old young woman, running for political office, makes her voice singular, irresistible, and unsinkable in a sea of anger apathy. In history, so often it’s one person who makes the difference.
Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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Cliff Hanger : Jump Before You Get Pushed"
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