Lisa Ranger, on Amazon, wrote this review of Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percent:
Mr. Van Buren takes us on a dark journey not to some strange dystopia, but to a dismal and grimy world inhabited by a sizable slice of 21st century America. You won’t see these characters on “Dancing With the Stars”, but they are far more ubiquitous than those inhabiting the trifles the media would feed you.This world wreaks of desperation, inhabited by people who can’t quite hang on to the edge of the socio-financial cliff. This is not beach reading, but is something you need to read and to understand.
In the tradition of the early 20th century Naturalists, Ghosts reads like an update of Frank Norris’s McTeague (later filmed as “Greed”). The unprivileged in life begin with aspirations and hope, but are ground down by a relentless indifference. Under pressure, people begin to gnaw at each other as well as themselves, like pit bulls throw into the exhibition ring, and this vicious preoccupation serves their overlord’s needs well.
The book mirrors the ugly reversion to world of the robber-barons we are witnessing today, as power and money coalesce in the upper stratosphere, who know how to game the system, while the middle class continues its inexorable decline into the lower-middle echelon and inevitably, the ranks of the poor.
The world that the protagonist inhabits allows no escape. He can afford neither to live, nor to die — a Hobson’s Choice.
Let Mr. Van Buren be your guide in the Ghosts of Tom Joad. He speaks from experience, and is an impassioned spokesman for those with no voice. As he has proven with his previous book, We Meant Well, he is an acute observer and scribe of the things those in power would not like for you to see.
Kudos, Mr. Van Buren. We will await your further forays down into the zeroes. It is not pretty, but it is a duty we are glad you’ve assumed.
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