Skip to main content

Happy Policeman (Patricia Anthony)

Back in the summer of 2010, I decided to see about curbing my book spending, and instead work on reading books already on my shelves. This was an obvious failure, when I was on the Powells Books website and found a bargain Sci-fi bin of books for about a dollar. I bought seventeen books and have been slowly working my way through them.
Patricia Anthony’s ‘The Happy Policeman’ was in that pile of books. I am not sure how this ended up in the dollar bin. Turns out, this book was incredible, worth far more than the dollar I paid for it. I bought it sight unseen, had no idea what the novel was about, but the cover art painted by Mark Smollin caught my attention, the title was unusual and the book became mine.
THIS BOOK WAS NOT ACTUAL SCI-FI. Do not auto-ignore this book if you are a genre snob, you may be missing out. Likewise, do not pick this book up thinking it will be handed to you on a platter, Patricia Anthony did a great job in obfuscating the end game and (as in my case) it takes some analysis to fully grasp the outcome. I actually sat for ten minutes after finishing this and thought to myself “What the hell was that?”. Once it sunk in, I found I had been presented with a confusingly brilliant story that is very recommendable.
The novel opens with DeWitt Dawson, police chief, riding his horse down Main Street, Coomy Texas. He has no gasoline for his police cruiser, the Torku have no trouble providing everything they need, but for some reason, gasoline takes them far longer than other supplies. DeWitt investigates some broken glass at a convenience store, wonders why anyone breaks into a store when the Alien Torku give people whatever they ask for.
Just outside town, DeWitt is called to investigate the body of Loretta Harper, naked-mutilated-never reported missing. She was found close to the plaid/paisley/rainbow colored dome that protects their town from the horrible radiation killing the world; Again, courtesy of the Torku. For six years, the Torku have helped the towns folk survive post ‘Bomb Day” when the world died. The Chief must determine if this murder was caused by a human survivor, or by one of the alien saviors who up this point have been hospitable and welcoming.
Labeled alternately as either Fiction or Science fiction, I believe it does this novel a disservice to pigeon hole it as SciFi based on the alien element or other “less tangible” aspects. It is more fringe than that. The Happy Policeman rides the cusp of multiple genres and is a potential read for any number of individuals. It is an investigative crime drama starring a pothead policeman. It is a human nature piece, showing the human desire for independence, the intrinsic need for self reliance that drives rebellion. It has cheating wives, and secret perversions; over-protective fathers and guilt laden decision making. It gives a shout out to ’12 Angry Men’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. And, because a number of the characters are aliens, it could loosely be considered Science Fiction,.
Based on the ending: I would consider this Speculative Buddhist Fiction (does the genre exists?).
The Alien Torku are a metaphoric plot device. Read the book, then read this review again. Afterwards we can fist fight over the details..
By fist fight, I mean drink beers..
By details, I mean discuss it’s awesomeness…
    If you are interested in the artwork, it looks like Smollin is selling the Acrylic painting this was sourced from for $500 bucks on his website. Store: Happy Policeman Acrylic Painted On Heavy-Weight Canvas Sized: 8.5″ x 13″\
    Pretty cool stuff people. Pretty cool stuff :)
    Regarding the author, Patricia Anthony.. Looks like she stopped writing. Not sure why, but I see a string of highly praised books… Not sure what the story is there, but Wikipedia say she is still alive, so…. I found an interview with Anthony in 2000 as part of the Barcelona Review. Reading the interview pretty much solidifies her works as “Must Reads” in my opinion. Especially her more mainstream “Flanders” which occurs in WWI..


    1. Very hard to find.

      She became an unsuccessful screenwriter.

      She was also in the hospital in 2011, but no word that I found since.

    2. i agree, very difficult to find. i need to read some more of her work.. it was a fresh experience, and very unusual.. not typically paired thoughts.

    3. The book really looks interesting.. I think it has all the makings of a best seller!

    4. I am not sure if this would ever make it that far, but it was definitely enjoyable.

      The topic matter and ending were solid, but they branched off a bit to places that standard consumers wouldn't go.. very "deep thought"..
      as such, i doubt it would ever be widely adopted. Considering the original publication was in 1996, think it is even stronger of a case.

      you should check it out though if it is up your alley.
      from me to you, i enjoyed it.


    Post a Comment

    Popular posts from this blog

    AbyssRium (IDLE Idea Factory) + Strategy

    Tap games are a dime a dozen in the mobile world. Most (as is AbyssRium) are free with ad-supported revenue and/or provide efficiency cheats in a store.

    AbyssRium sets itself apart from other tap games by leveraging a unique concept. In a Synthetic ocean, you are the ever loving caretaker of a talking 'Coralite', which to the best of our perceptions is an underwater volcanic vent. The point of the game is to build strength and vitality for your volcano and its surrounding wild life; evolving animals and fortifying new types of coral. As each element of your world is enhanced, you elicit more vitality from the creatures for use in evolution.
    It is easiest to think of your mobile device as the side of a giant fish tank, and you are going to be tapping on the glass. While you were told in life this was bad for an aquarium, in AbyssRium, your Coralite considers this loving attention. It smiles at you, gives on screen hints, and makes a slightly disturbing orgasm face every time y…

    DayBlack: Forever changing how I view tattoo guns and Inkmaster

    I am blown away by how absolutely off game I am. The Trade Paperback DayBlack has existed since August 2015. AUGUST 2015! The universal hiatus I took after my children's birth looks more and more like I just died and rolled under a rock. Granted, I am a long way from Atlanta, where Artist Keef Cross does his work. Excuses, assholes, you know the saying.

    Get a copy via Amazon today.Buying a copy through this link supports this site but cost you no extra money.Series: DayBlackDayBlack vol 1 (Keef Cross)104 pagesRosarium PublishingISBN-10: 0990319121ISBN-13: 978-0990319122
    Merce is a vampire. He exists in DayBlack Georgia, a city where a past industrial meltdown has blotted out direct sunlight. Merce finds himself passing out at inconvenient moments, seemingly being impacted by the extended darkness around him. Is his Circadian Rhythm screwed up or is there something about how he feeds which interrupts his waking 'life'?
    Because of the AIDS epidemic, deadly to vampires, Merce ha…

    Renegade- Martin Luther, The Graphic Biography: Not about the awesome Styx or JayZ songs

    October 31st, 1517: Young monk, Martin Luther nails documents to the front door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. On the pages were printed 95 theses defining man's relationship with God and religion. These were tumultuous times and blasphemy is a dangerous game for renegades and suicidal fools anxious to receive the lash.
    2017 marks the five hundredth anniversary of this event.  Martin Luther rallied against the Pope and started a revolution in thought that shook the cornerstones of known Christianity. The writing and distribution of Luther's 95 theses, caused ripples in our social structures still in evidence.

    Slated for release on 10/08/2017 Preorders available Renegade: Martin Luther, The Graphic Biography (Dacia Palmerino, Andrea Ciponte)160 pagesPlough Publishing House ISBN-10: 0874862078ISBN-13: 978-0874862072
    I have bastardized a bit of this, but bear with me as I am far from being a religious historian. I will leave the hard core cross comparison to those with stronger b…