Authored by musician, performance/artist and author Nick Currie (otherwise known as Momus), UnAmerica is a hilarious satirical work which follows "God", a janitor at Tastee Freez, who recruits the book's protagonist to "uninvent America" because he's so disgusted by what the country has become.The following is an excerpt of UnAmerica by Momus, published by Penny-Ante Editions:
I mentioned that my father was an archeologist in Bangkok. That was a lie.
In fact, Dad was a doctor. He was often called in to minister to the Catawba people up on the reservation.
The Catawba lived in bark houses with rounded tops. Since they had semi-autonomous status, the Catawba could license casinos and other gaming houses on their ancestral lands; this quickly became their main source of income. It was the white man’s revenge on the Catawba, declared Dad, because otherwise their bad treatment would confer upon them an unbearable moral superiority.
“If they weren’t doing something low-down and dirty like gambling”, Dad said, “they'd be up there on the high moral ground, looking down on us.”
A combination of shame, unemployment and chronic alcoholism made the Catawba a sorry tribe; many of their illnesses stemmed from depression, according to Dad. His solution was to prescribe the best modern medication, and lots of it.
“Dancing round a pole imitating a crow won’t lift these good people out of the shit we've dropped them in”, he'd say in his John Wayne-like drawl. “They deserve the best modern medicine has to offer”.
A man from the reservation came to Dad complaining that he was inhabited by the spirit of a bear. Dad gave him a combination of Prothiaden and Aropax. Sure enough, after a couple of months not only had the imaginary bear departed, so had all the real bears that used to hang around the reservation, delving in the trash and causing a rumpus.
This, however, depressed the elders, who depended on bears for some of their rituals. Dad put them on Zoloft and Xanax, and soon the wrinkly old men were so cheerful that they not only stopped missing the bears, they stopped conducting religious ceremonies altogether.
Because of this, however, some of the aged women in the community, who were about to die, got very miserable, thinking that their souls were condemned to wander across dismal plains forever rather than head to paradise. Dad put the crones on Stelazine, Epilim and Effexor. It was such a success that not only did the women stop complaining about the lack of religious services, they stopped worrying about death and, in some cases, positively embraced it. Three of them used a shotgun, and four jumped off a low cliff.
By now I was really beginning to see the interconnectedness of all things. The younger women in the village mourned what they saw as the premature death of the old women. So Dad put them on Largactil, which is Chlorpromazine.
Interestingly enough, all the younger women experienced one of the drug’s weirder side effects, evident in only 5% of the white women who take it: they experienced spontaneous whole-body orgasms when they sneezed. This was so good, in and of itself, that the women no longer saw any need for actual sex, and the tribe quickly died out.
This might have made Dad feel guilty, but he was taking high doses of Paxil and Prozac. All in all, he ended up feeling pretty good about things.
When a big leisure corporation turned the Catawba reservation into a golf course Mom had some residual moral qualms, especially when we used to drive past there on the way to the farmer’s market. So Dad gave her Resperidone, increased the dose after a week, and added a chaser of 300mg Tofranil tablets. Pretty soon Mom, too, was serene.
Then there was just me, preaching from the back seat, the family’s moral voice. I was shut up with Ritilan and Elavil administered orally, plus Nortriptyline and Lithium fed by nocturnal intravenous drip.
Without the drugs we probably would have been so consumed with guilt that we’d never have dared mention the Catawba again. But on all that medication, basking in that glow of well-being, we felt balanced, perfectly able not just to refer to the disappeared indigenous tribes, but to take on some aspects of their lives.
Obviously nothing can ever replace the Catawba, their rituals, their worldview, their distinctive culture. That’s gone now, forever. But we can revive—selectively, and according to our own whims—the nice bits of their society.
Mother is always the first up. She dresses the trims of the seal-oil lamp. Sizzling, the lamp burns brightly; it needs to, because our tree-bark house has no windows.
Father pulls on a bird-skin parka and enters the long passage that leads to the clearing where a low earthen roof conceals our dwelling of sod and wood.
Father scans the clouds and sky; the weather will determine whether he’ll take the kayak out, string fish on a line to dry, or head up to the trading store to exchange ivory totems for stainless steel needles.
Up in the village meeting house sits Grandfather, chanting softly the thousand secret names of the wind. Under his tongue a white tablet of Wellbutrin XL dissolves slowly.
UnAmerica is published by Penny-Ante Editions and is available May 13