Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pedophilia, Public Education, and Other Crimes

While Saint Louis police, Ferguson residents, and media hacks were more interested in promoting their agendas than getting at the truth, author Rick Skwiot was polishing a crime novel that accurately portrays the harsh realities of governmental and educational corruption in Saint Louis slums. I just finished my review copy of Fail. This is the thinking man's Grisham, which is to say: it's the book John Grisham would write if he were more interested in fine literature than raking in money and empathizing with pedophiles.

In all fairness, Grisham may have merely wanted to ensure fair representation for these deeply-misunderstood members of society in the tradition of other highly-respected pedophile defenders like Hillary Clinton. This editor has absolutely no problem with society shedding a tear for the sufferings of pedophiles, as long as we follow-up such sensitive moments with swift executions. Death to pedophiles is the official editorial stance of this child-adoring magazine. Having dated a couple hotties who bore the lifelong psychosexual scars of childhood rape, I will happily strangle the bastards myself.

Speaking of scumbags who screw children, Fail highlights the widespread betrayal of trust and innocence more politely known as a public school education. I myself am a public school survivor. I had some wonderful teachers who were well-informed and highly-motivated, like Mr. Taylor who inspired our class to love literature and invited our class to visit his cottage in the woods. (No, he didn't invite us to his Neverland ranch or his Peter Pan bed. He was a good man not a creepy selfish freak.) I had some other teachers who could only be roused from drunken naps drooling on their desks by the opportunity to go on strike for higher pay with less hours.

As a professor in a public Mexican university, I've stood in shock and awe at ballsy colleagues working four hours a day (except for summers off and any other days they felt like canceling) who blocked highways to demand higher wages from taxpayers who lacked shoes. I've made a lot of enemies refusing to join such demonstrations, because I work for the elected representatives who are hired by the voters who should decide my salary and working conditions. Democracy is a very flawed system producing very flawed schools, but schools run by unelected union thugs are far, far worse. If you doubt me, I'll show you universities boasting countless new edifices built only for politico photo-ops with no books, chairs, or toilet paper for students inside.

Rick Skwiot's crime novel is set against the backdrop of a greater crime wave sweeping America: schools that exist for teachers, administrators and politicians but not for students. If you're squeamish about vivid descriptions of the dark side of urban life or accepting that "progressive" politicians enable regressive schools, don't read Fail. A pedophile can fuck over a handful of children rapidly, but a bureaucrat can fuck over millions of children slowly. Likewise, a man with a briefcase can steal more money than any man with a gun. Rick Skwiot knows Saint Louis. He also knows that sometimes the worst crimes are the legal ones.


  1. Thanks, Lyn, for the great review! As always, your take is heartfelt, original, deftly written and on target. I might add that in addition to dramatizing urban dysfunction, FAIL also serves up a page-turning mystery with a lot of humor and heart, like your own writing.

  2. Good point, Rick. Though I was as subtle as a sledgehammer in echoing your profound message, you made the point with your usual elegant understatement. So, readers will enjoy the gripping addictive crime story without getting a sermon. Thanks for the great book.