Monday, May 30, 2016

Proletarian Fiction

 New Book Announcement:
"FACTORY DAYS  - Class war takes many forms, and this is one of them" by C.G. Gibbs, 2016

This story is set in the early to mid-1980s in the first wave of U.S. factory closings, amidst recessions and rumblings of financial fraud.  It is a story about class consciousness through the prism of one ordinary white working-class union man, Malachomus O’Corrigan.  Malachy toils away in one of Chicago’s working class suburbs, in an electronics factory about to close. A British/Australian multi-national had purchased the U.S. factory to make equipment for Wall Street.  Their main goal is downsizing the plant, laying off workers and removing the union due to technical changes in the industry.  After a series of personal tribulations, Malachy snaps and decides to take revenge. Copy-cats imitate his actions across the U.S., which worries the police and the FBI to no end.

In the process, Malachy meets members of several leftist/socialist organizations.  He attends a rally in Austin, Minnesota for the P-9 Hormel strikers and gets into a number of confrontations.  The book is set in Franklin Park and Chicago, Illinois and Minneapolis and Ely, Minnesota.   

The basic theme of the story is class-struggle, on an individual level and involving unions and socialists.  The issue of retaliatory terror against top businessmen is central.  The story takes place during the initial volleys of the renewed class war by capitalists on the American working class, which re-opened with startling fury in the late 1970s-early 1980s. The famous Austin, Minnesota meat-packers strike is a central event in the book.  Austin was one of many defensive strikes during this period across the country, like the 'war zone' in Decatur, Illinois, the Pittston coal strike and the walkout against the Chicago Tribune.   

The protagonist is a somewhat easy-going person slammed by overwhelming problems.  He has two relationships with women – one ending and one beginning.  The relationship between his best factory friend endures in spite of real dangers from the police and the state.  The book is a naturalistic narrative, broken up by first-person ‘stream of consciousness.’  Hair metal music serves as its ‘soundtrack.’  The story could be read as a ‘police procedural,’ but it turns that genre on its head.  The story is humbly told in the tradition of Upton Sinclair, ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “Native Son,” Theodore Dreiser and the proletarian writers of the early to mid-20th century - a tradition that has almost died or is dead.  This books seeks to revive that tradition.  The historical background is the flight of black slaves north, now copied by the flight of a white wage slave many years later. 

At the present time there is almost no fiction covering layoffs, strikes or unions in the United States – a stunning omission.  One can count the number of novelists who deal with this area on less than one hand.  One of the difficulties is that the subject matter is outside the experience of most middle-class writers, who don’t see factory life or working-class politics as significant.  This book, given the decimation of the U.S. working class over the past 40 years by financial and industrial capital and the subsequent rise of a mass opposition to Wall Street, is timely and on-target. 
C.G. Gibbs

Right now, copies are available at Mayday Books and Magers & Quinn in Minneapolis, Chapman Street Books and Second Floor Bookstore in Ely, Minnesota.   Also available on-line at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and electronic versions.  (Type:  'Factory Days Gibbs') You can also e-mail the author, '' to arrange getting the book by mail.  $15.95 softback.  $4.99 Kindle.

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