An award-winning political dark comedy by a retired Daytona Beach News-Journal editor has been published by the Journal of Experimental Fiction in Chicago.
“It’s a tragedy you can dance to,” said Cal Massey of his novel “Own Little Worlds,” which won the journal’s Kenneth Patchen Award for the Innovative Novel in 2020. The award is named after the mid-20th century experimental writer who influenced Beat and Postmodern literary movements.
“The setting is post-Trump America and journalists and political dirty tricksters are going head-to-head to save democracy,” said Massey. “A toe-tappin’ tune just might be the answer, but you’ve got to get through a bomb, a couple of murders and a lot of lies to get there.”
Massey retired as deputy managing editor of the Daytona Beach News-Journal in 2016. This is the Flagler Beach author’s first novel at age 65.
Advance praise for the novel highlighted its pacing and unique voice.
“The story draws you in from the opening paragraphs and the pacing and voice are masterful,” said Jesi Buell, editor-in-chief of KERNPUNKT Press.
In announcing the award winner, judge Jason E. Rolfe, author of “An Inconvenient Corpse” and “An Archive of Human Nonsense,” said: “Cal Massey’s “(Own Little Worlds)” stands out not simply because it’s well written (which it is), because it’s a good story (which it is), or because it’s experimental (which it is, though not superficially so). It stands out because it’s a mixture of these three key ingredients, the most impressive of which, I would happily argue, is the quality of Mr. Massey’s writing.”
Massey calls the novel “a shapeshifter” because it turns into a play and back again about two-thirds of the way through. “It solved a logistical problem. I needed to get all the characters together in one place,” he said. “And then I kind of liked it.”
The book jacket’s summary describes the plot this way:
“Four days before the presidential election, a bomb explodes on a Japanese cargo ship in the Port of Jacksonville, incinerating four American workers. Unexplained murders follow.
“Retired newspaper editor Trammell is on the story, just as soon as he gets in a quick nap. Laid-off reporter Lucy Neale has his back, searching for a fugitive computer programmer falsely accused of planting the bomb.
“Is the Democratic president, Oscar winner Cassandra Holland, somehow involved? Is the GOP challenger, pro wrestler Daniel “The Hammer” Hammerschmidt, behind it? And just what is dirty trickster Dick Maestro up to? All we know for sure is that a toe-tappin’ tune could save America.”
“Own Little Worlds” is available on Amazon or at experimentalfiction.com