Okay, so maybe you’re tired of politics, especially right after what seemed like a very long election season. But that shouldn’t keep you from taking a look at Bill McKibben’s debut novel, Radio Free Vermont, and following his quirky but interesting take on what might happen if people in the state of Vermont decided they were mad as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore . . . “it” being their being part of the United States.
While this is McKibben’s first novel, it’s certainly not his first book, nor is it his first foray into the world of politics. His book, The End of Nature, which came out back in 1989 (!) is considered a classic work of environmentalism and one of the first to bring attention to the problem of climate change.
However, here he’s a little more lighthearted. Our protagonist is one Vern Barclay, 72 years old and host of “Radio Free Vermont,” an underground radio station broadcasting from an undisclosed location, and he’s advocating for the radical idea that Vermont should secede from the United States and become its own country, with its own economy. Though maybe that’s not really what he’s working for. Maybe he’s really just working to get people more involved with their own communities, their own local economies, their own local produce. As Vern talks, people start listening, and, more interestingly, they start acting. Nothing too radical or dangerous, really, just things like taking over the public broadcasting at the local Starbucks, and giving local middle school students a day off for “Ethan Allen Day”, and hijacking a Coors truck to replace its contents with a local brewery’s products instead (there are probably many people who would applaud such a move even around here). Full of quirky locals and a certain over the top look at what’s happening to small towns and small communities throughout the country, Radio Free Vermont is a good quick read you’ll enjoy even if you do think you’re sick to death of politics.