Caveman Politics

Caveman PoliticsJay Atkinson (MA, 1982)

Breakaway Books, 1997
ISBN: 1558215654

Both a rugby novel and a thriller (and surely the only book to lay claim to such a pedigree), Caveman Politics is a tragicomic look at the lowdown Neanderthal life and politics of a small Florida town. It’s about slackers versus careerists, the edges of society against the middle, subcultures hidden within the dominant one, the weird lives of athletes, and the eternal struggles to survive and thrive.

Joe Dolan is a reporter for the Cocoa Beach Post-Gazette. He plays rugby in his spare time and hangs out with the strangest bunch of athletes ever to grace the pages of a novel. When their teammate – Mike Melendez, a black student from a well-to-do Trinidadian family – is accused of raping a white woman, all hell breaks loose. The cops abuse Mike, the local D.A. – posturing for public image – is out for his head, the community turns against him, and the alleged victim and her redneck boyfriend try to cash in with a movie deal for her rapidly unraveling story. That is, when the boyfriend isn’t trying to kill Mike. Even certain members of the rugby team let their latent (or not-so-latent) racism rise into ugly view. Joe Dolan sets out to find the truth in this maze of self-interest and venom. Along the way he encounters a schizophrenic Elvis impersonator who actually believes himself to be The King; a life-insurance salesman with a death wish; a black lawyer who has been around the block a few times; and a black detective who once was a Jesuit; all of whom teach him a thing or two about life.

Caveman Politics is an unflinching look at the underbelly of American life. Full of dirty realism, intrigue, brutality, humor, romance, hate, love, sex, and the caveman politics of life (and rugby), this novel announces the arrival of a very talented novelist.