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Staying primed

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It's no one's idea of a Rocky Mountain bohemia, but Colorado Springs has harbored its share of literati. In her recent book, Where I Was From, Joan Didion recalls conceiving her avocation here at the age of 8 while her father was stationed at Peterson Air Force Base. The Corrections author Jonathan Franzen also lived here briefly before becoming the bte noir of the Oprah book club.

Last summer, the Springs welcomed another writer, Chris Bachelder whose debut book Bear v. Shark skewers, among other things, American entertainment culture. The book is about a fight in which bear and shark go toe to toe in the sovereign republic of Las Vegas.

Sadly for Bachelder, the novel came out at exactly the wrong time for a satirical novel: one month after Sept. 11.

But now that the punditry has moved on from eulogizing irony, maybe there's more cultural breathing room for political satire?

Bachelder doesn't think so.

"It still seems to me like a very patriotic time," he said. "I don't see the American public being hungry for it."

Bachelder came to the Springs for a day job -- teaching contemporary American fiction and creative writing at Colorado College. While he says that teaching is the best day job a writer can have -- clearly he's never worked at Quizno's -- Bachelder's back at work on another satirical novel, this time about the life of muckraking novelist Upton Sinclair.

The work-in-progress is a disjunctive narrative in which Sinclair is repeatedly returned to life and then assassinated.

"American satire is getting harder and harder to do because you turn on your television and it's more absurd than anything you can make up," said Bachelder.

Asked how living in the Springs is affecting his work, the author responded:

"I have a sense of daily political anger that I might not have if I was living in Berkeley among fellow lefties; it definitely keeps me primed to write. "

-- John Dicker

photo by Bruce Elliott

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