Reviews

Lutheran pastor pens election-inspired novel

Running Mates: In Order to Form a More Perfect Union. Matthew M. Anderson. Edina, Minnesota: Beaver’s Pond Press. 2012. Softbound and eBook. $15.95. 288 pages. www.runningmate.com.

Are you looking for something to take your mind off the barrage of political ads on television? Have you “had it up to here” with the level of discourse in most campaigns. If you are looking for an escape from the unimaginative back-and-forth of election season, you might try a political novel by local Lutheran pastor and writer, Matthew M. Anderson.

Yep, the setting is a presidential election, but the story delves more deeply into questions of public and personal integrity and humanity’s better angels. Readers won’t escape the spot-on political insights of the novel, but they will be challenged to think outside the box because of the compelling characters.

The story opens at a Republican National Convention, with the certain nominee about to announce his choice for running mate. Within pages the reader shares with candidate Maurice Franklin the sense of the emotional high (and low) of having adoring masses chanting your name. From that moment there is no putting the book down.

Since the plot is important, I won’t spoil the reader’s fun with more details. But, know that Anderson demonstrates a deep knowledge of political processes and American history. And, except for a short interlude during one of the election debates, he resists attempts to use paper-tiger arguments for either political persuasion. (During that debate, he allows one candidate to offer his worldview, while the other candidate was basically used to set up his arguments.)

Clearly, the author could have written a non-fiction screed about the American electoral system and the forces that drive it toward ideological purity and the avoidance of compromise. Instead, Running Mate offers a creative vehicle to consider options that may seem quaint because the author understands that humans are simul justus et peccator.

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