Title: In The Matter Of J. Van Pelt
Author: Dave Shiflett
Publish Date: February 1, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the author. This did not affect my review.
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "In The Matter Of J. Van
Pelt” is a book about obsession – political, religious, romantic and
historical. It’s also about True Love and hope, which are also
J. Van Pelt , 42, is a true believer on the slide. He
works for a conservative legal foundation that has stumbled across a
career-building case: Max Gold, a revered liberal fundraiser, has been
observed in an innocent yet embarrasing position by a 12- year-old boy.
The lad’s father demands justice – or at least a lawsuit that will force
Gold to cough up substantial money to alleviate his son’s “pain and
Putting Gold’s head on the wall would make Van Pelt
an ideological superstar. Yet as he prepares to launch a lawsuit
targeting Gold he feels increasingly ill at ease, largely due to reading
his own diary entries. What sort of man, he wonders, hopes to advance
himself this way? Only a loser and a crank.
ideological certitudes fall away. He’s also consumed by the impending
death of his uncle Shupe, who is part Moses, part Snopes, and part W.C.
Fields. He resides in Appomattox County, Va., where his family has lived
for three centuries. He’s an old man, raised by a slave, who sailed the
world with the Navy, came to believe in U.F.O.s, wants to be cloned. He
has, he reveals, also dabbled in cannibalism.
Van Pelt feels his life is empty and meaningless. He has never really
taken a chance. The voice that presents itself in his diary – the
Lurking Entity – convinces him he must break free from Washington. Van
Pelt has also met a beautiful woman – Alison -- another life-changing
My Two Cents:
book was very interesting to me for a couple factors. First, it's
written in a journal format by J. Van Pelt (Jesus Van Pelt), who is not a
very likable guy at all. He's uber conservative to the point of being
blind. He's part of the DC establishment that we all love to pour
Haterade all over (that's just not me, right?). Through writing the book
as journal entries, we get an intimate picture of who Van Pelt is and
why he does what he does.
On the other hand, the hard thing
about using journal entries is that they are a person's thoughts. When
we write down our thoughts in a journal, we may not be thinking in full
sentences or writing down everything that you would if you were writing
something for another person. That did get a little confusing throughout
I really did not like Van Pelt at all. I found it very
hard to care about him throughout the book. He does finally make his
way towards a little bit of redemption. I did really like the character
of Uncle Shupe. He was just an all around awesome guy. The parts of the
book that talked about the things that he said were always very funny.
This is a fast read with an interesting and engaging writing style.