ANTI-BOOK REVIEW— “The Texas-Israeli War:1999” by Jake Saunders and Howard Waldrop

Are you thankful for your family, food, and living in a (currently) non-postapostolic society but also kind of living deep-set in terror that conversation around the Thanksgiving dinner table may be about turn at any moment and burst into flames over the recent election? Do you have relatives, family members, and friends who fight normally and you know you know any minute it is about to get so much worse, and it will only continue to escalate until the next time you (tentatively, let’s see how this goes) see them again? Are you just trying not to think too hard and get through the next few hours/month without being murdered and or murdering a blood relation?

We have a book for you. Let me change my line of questioning:

Do you remember the year 1999 in only a faint haze, if at all, and often think to yourself did rogue Texans maybe kidnap the president during that time? I feel like that definitely could have happened. Are you a Texan who feels like the post-apocalypse is your time to shine? Are you Israeli and looking for love? Would you like to implicitly blame the British nuclear arsenal for all your problems after reading a book jacket but never actually see anything about them stated explicitly in the text? Can you enjoy things ironically?

Okay. Let’s get down to business, the holiday situation is grave and you’re running out of time.

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And so it has come to this—The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 by Jake Saunders and Howard Waldrop. This is what you are looking for. The book that is going to darkly save your holiday/family relationship/marriage.

This shimmering work of literature is so tone deaf and far in/off topic that any questions anyone might possibly ask about it could only lead to the best kinds of ridiculous disagreements. Here, with your loving family and the continuing holiday season, you already feel as if you’re living in farce—embrace it. Though you might be able get in a fight about Israel/Palestine, the predicament of everything else in this book’s alternate reality lends to the derailment of all grounds for coherent argument or thought. If someone really wants to try to get in a fight with you about a book that details military maneuvers around the bustling “metroplex” of Dalworthington, Texas (population 2,259 according to the 2010 census) and whether or not the Cotton Bowl Stadium (because post-apocalyptic football) would ever actually end up there, then SO BE IT. This is the kind of familial bridge-burning you can handle. Cuban amphibious assaults. Unexplained Swedish mercenaries somehow come across the Atlantic and holding Port Isabel. Dare I go on?

The plot of Texas-Israeli War harkens back to a simpler time, a time in which the United States has been reduced to desert and wilderness. Only 1/10th of the earth’s population has survived devastating nuclear war, apparently (according to the book jacket only) caused by Great Britain bombing Ireland, South Africa, and China for some reason. Israel is overpopulated and the only place to have somehow survived these brutal transgressions. In the wake of this global catastrophe, two Israeli mercenaries, Sol and Myra, immigrate with their troops to the United States under the pretense of obtaining land in exchange for their military prowess. Their love is true and pure, but their lives and the fate of America are at stake when lawless Texan rebels kidnap the President of United States from Oklahoma City. Against the Texans and brutal, unforgiving, post-apocalyptic Texas wasteland only Sol, Myra, and their rag-tag group can save the President and restore order to our once-great nation.

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One wonders at the ferocious veracity of our heroes throughout the novel, not only as they brave battle after battle with the Texans with their tanks and lasers, but also the ever dangerous elements of the Texan wilderness. Here is just a taste of the adventures that lie within this books’ meager, burnt-sienna bindings:

Myra’s heart raced as the tornado swayed downslope. Laser fire would have no effect on an enemy that bridged heaven and earth. A laser shaft would enter the vortex and be shattered into a billion slivers of light… What a curious way to die, thought Myra, killed by a piece of vapor shaped like a corkscrew.

Not to be outdone by mere circumstances of plot and character, Texas-Israeli War also offers an attempt at philosophical commentary on death the nature of war should you be looking for the occasional dark twist of melodrama to match your familial mood as you are reading. Bordering on breaking the fourth wall, this graphic narrative break in form occurs near the middle of the piece in which it slips inexplicably from third into second person for a few pages in a long address of indirect audience, musing on the nature of corpses:

Whether it is male or female, military or civilian, young or old—it lies there, new and covered with blood or days old and burst by the sun, a house kept by maggots. These dead wake when you sleep and when they walk you groan in your bed.

Daamn.

Outside of this three-page break, the text is generally not too dark, filled with rich, illustrious prose such as “the sun cracked like an ocherous egg on the horizon,” dialogue like “Don’t catch a cold—or a bullet,” and characters like Splevins “a CIA man who looked like an insurance agent and talked like a spy.” This masterpiece will not disappoint. The climax in which Sol must rescue both his beloved Myra and the President from the renegade cowboys at Ft. Deaf Smith and the nearby township of Crystal City—a place of “bordellos, bars, grass shops, saloons, pool halls, and sundry entertainment establishments” is truly a work of genius. Marred only by a tendency to slip into military jargon and lengthy furniture-moving type descriptions of martial stratagem, the Texas-Israeli War is a glittering treasure-trove of undiscovered literary gems.

Think of your children, your parents, grandparents, friends, siblings, or simply the love of your nation this Thanksgiving/holiday season and do what you know must be done. You will not make it through the holidays without this book or an equivalent. If your familial bonds or personal opinions are strong enough to go it alone, hats off to you, but if not, know that this book and others like it are available on amazon and your local second-hand book stores for you in your time of troubles.


Mirri Glasson-Darling is a first year fiction MFA student at Virginia Tech.

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