Radio Free Vermont

Bill McKibben. Blue Rider, $22 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7352-1986-1
Summoning the spirit of Edward Abbey, environmentalist and author McKibben (The End of Nature) makes his fiction debut with this rollicking tale of monkeywrenching and political activism. Proud Vermonter, local ale lover, and radio personality Vern Barclay didn’t mean to become a radical, but when the new owners of his radio station tell him he can’t be critical of big media on his show he pushes back by getting creative with his coverage of the controversial opening of a new Walmart. After things spiral out of control he’s forced to go underground, but that doesn’t stop him from continuing his clever acts of resistance, including hacking into the sound system of a Bennington Starbucks to broadcast a Radio Free Vermont podcast touting the value of buying local. The podcast’s tone quickly becomes revolutionary, and soon Barclay has called for secession to be put on the agenda of town meetings across the state, and Ben and Jerry’s has created a Free Vermont ice cream flavor (made with Vermont milk and maple syrup, of course). Aided by a motley crew of friends and recruits, Barclay’s disruptive hijinks get bigger and crazier (including setting a house on fire) as the authorities close in on him. With a playful and quick-moving plot that belies the seriousness of the book’s environmental and political message, McKibben’s stirring call for recognizing the value and power of smallness in a globalized world makes for a vital and relevant fable. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/11/2017
Release date: 11/07/2017
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-0-7352-1987-8
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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