A Review of Radio Free Vermont by Bill McKibben
Does the world around us seem surreal? Are we feeling helpless in the face of natural disasters and political dysfunction?
Radio Free Vermont is medicine for what ails us. The best antidote for gloom is humor. The best treatment for despair is a dose of creative fiction.
Bill McKibben is one of my favorite authors and activists. He has written over a dozen books about the dangers of climate change. He founded the worldwide advocacy group 350.org. He has been arrested for protesting the XL Pipeline. He has sparked the fossil fuel divestment movement. Now, he has written a novel that we can enjoy and learn from.
The subtitle is A Fable of Resistance. It’s the story of Vern Barclay, an aging radio announcer who, because of a chance encounter at Walmart, finds himself the voice of a movement to declare Vermont to be an independent nation. The “powers that be” label this “terrorism”, and Vern ends up underground.
His companions are an unlikely group, and they work together to encourage Vermonters to express themselves at the annual town meetings.
There are chases and rescues and other adventures that pull back the curtain on the authorities that control the levers of power.
We finished the book with a smile and an intention to find creativity in our resistance to the narratives of our time and place.
It’s an easy read – the serious message is given with a light touch.