Book Review: Crash by Julian Gough


Julian Gough’s Crash: How I Lost a Hundred Billion and Found True Love is a satirical novella about a serious subject, the EU/IMF bailout of post-financial-crash Ireland. After five years of austerity and hand-wringing, most people’s eyes glaze over at the mention of banks or bailouts. But, Gough does something very subtle and effective in his ebook-original novella, he provides a better lesson in austerity economics than most journalists and professors have been able to come up with since 2008.

Julian Gough's CRASH! Julian Gough is a poet, dramatist, novelist, and once upon a time was the lead singer for cult Irish rock group Toasted Heretic. His short stories have won the BBC short story award and irritated the biggest multinational corporation in the world. He’s already poked fun at the financial sector in his play “The Great Goat Bubble,” but clearly he hasn’t ceased to find the world of politics and high finance ridiculous. While everyone else has been wailing and gnashing their teeth over austerity, he’s been writing a satirical novella. Perhaps he’s been insulated slightly from the fatalism of the “we have no option but austerity” so-called debate about the financial crisis in Ireland by virtue of living in Berlin? But enough background info, it’s time to meet Jude…

Gough’s regular everyman, Jude (a slightly different character than the Jude in his novels Jude: Level 1 and Jude in London), has the distinction of being the last person in the country of Squanderland to purchase property. He preferred to avoid the credit economy because he “didn’t understand how everyone could get richer by increasing their debt.” He finally succumbs to an insistent bank official because he admired the man’s tenacity (this banker, of course, ends up in the government). Naturally, this last undeveloped piece of real estate is staggeringly expensive. It’s also a wooden henhouse, with no roof. (“‘Ah, now,’” said Jude. “‘There are a number of planks still in place, and not all of them are rotten.’”) For this bottom rung on the property ladder, Jude finds himself the most indebted man in the world. Thankfully, Jude has a sunny disposition, and doesn’t let this prey on his peace-of-mind. From his point of view, things are not too bad. His chickens are laying, so he has food, and water (i.e. rain) is plentiful. Compared to his previous life living rough in a bog, things are looking up.

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The collected wisdom of Helen Dunkel, the Chancellor of Frugalia, the rational nation of compulsive savers, and Bertrand Plastique, the President of the European Bank of Common Sense and Stability, aided by the banker who sold Jude his henhouse, arrive in Squanderland intent on mobilizing “the financial firepower of Europe to put a roof on this henhouse, and stabilize its debt,” so that “the markets will be reassured.” There follows a ludicrous scheme to build a roof over Squanderland and harvest its water to pay its debt, leaving environmental and social ruin, rampant emigration, and a string of bankrupt business in Frugalia. This provides a good chuckle until you reflect on it and see just how closely the satirical roof scheme mirrors the broad strokes of the actual European bailout and austerity policies currently the Band-Aid of choice for Europe.

As usual, Jude meets whatever life throws his way with plain common sense, and a positive attitude, which only serves to throw the bad ideas the so-called educated elite offer as a panacea into starker contrast. No matter how bad the idea is, the markets must be reassured.

Crash is a timely and witty reminder that as usual the Emperor has no clothes on, and the courtiers have been smoking something harmful to their intellect. Jonathan Swift would surely pause for a moment in his ceaseless spinning and feel a moment of pride that Irish satire is alive and well, even if, like its money, it does reside in Germany now…

–Rich

 

Notes

Crash is available as an eBook for the Kindle…

Rumor has it that physical copies can be printed by the excellent Harvard Book Store on their fancy book-making robot machine thingy. But, I couldn’t find corroboration of that fact online, and can’t remember where I heard that piece of info.

Crash is published by DailyLit. Learn more about their project…

Julian Gough maintains a website at www.juliangough.com but is more likely to be found on Twitter…

I reviewed Julian Gough’s hilarious novel Jude: Level 1 yonks ago…

 

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