Award Winning author David Aretha’s review of National Parks
Author Rolf Margenau, a Korean War veteran who’s sharper than the rest of us, delivers a fresh, scathing, hilarious, and brilliant satire of greedy corporate America and our shamefully broken Congress… Margenau, who attended the same school (Yale) as four of our last seven presidents, is relentless in his political and social satire—not just in plot, but in the use of language. In debating the Parks Act, network news “talking heads” engage in a “tsunami of blather [that] submerge[s] rational intercourse.” Lobbyists are even worse, spewing lies at an hourly rate of $1,500. At one point, Congressman Sneath talks with lobbyist Tureen O’Porto: “Sneath suspected her internal bullshit meter was approaching the red zone, but he plowed on.”
Techies will delight in Margenau’s world. Heck, they might even get ideas for future inventions. Gyro-roamers, for example, give pedestrians an extra spring in their step. Molecule-sized robots repair human organs. The Terratron satellite digitally peels away the earth’s layers to disclose the riches beneath. A drop of a woman’s blood on her fob will inform her if she’s pregnant, and if so then the fob will emit “romantic violin sounds” along with electronic congratulations.
Margenau’s sardonic wit is a big step above Saturday Night Live’s and on par with Stephen Colbert and John Oliver, both of whom would benefit by having this octogenarian on staff. I can envision each of those comics pounding the table in laughter, like I did, while reading National Parks.
Reviews for NATIONAL PARKS in September, 2016
I loved this book “National Parks” by Rolf Margenau! It was so funny, but actually had an interesting and surprisingly intelligent plot also (I say surprisingly because it is so sardonic in nature) The tone was light and tongue in cheek, but there is a deeper, more serious message here as with many clever satires when done well (which is a difficult thing to do!). On the surface it appears almost comical, and it is…. But it is a profound look at political states, environmentalism, consumerism, etc…. Very well-written, fast paced and funny with some really entertaining characters. An enjoyable read for fans of political satire. Creative, original, entertaining, yet delivers a powerful and at times profound message, I look forward to reading more from Mr. Margenau in the future as he is truly a gifted storyteller AND writer (not necessarily the same thing……). (5 stars) Jenna Brewster—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
This book, “National Parks…” by Rolf Margenau was terrific and totally unlike anything I’ve read before. So creative and unique! Once I started reading I didn’t want to stop until I’d finished the whole thing… But it seemed to go by fast and was endlessly amusing--and oddly enlightening. I chuckled many times, and loved the whole wide cast of wonderful characters, from Portia to Tureen (and all the others…)-- It is an interesting and complex (yet lighthearted) look at life and the role of governmental influence (and rules, and red tape) in a satire-like manner. I really enjoyed Margenau’s narrative voice and style of writing. The ending was perfect and wraps it all up nicely. Oh, and the editing was nearly flawless… I notice (and appreciate!) that. Recommend for fans of intelligent humor/political satire. (4 stars) Gillian Hancock—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
This was the first book I’ve read by this author Rolf Margenau, but I certainly hope it’s not the last. He has a gift for writing descriptive and life-like scenes that make us feel like we are really there inside the story, as opposed to it all just being “told” to us, as so many rookie authors make the mistake of doing. I like that this book didn’t feel stale or derivative of anything I’ve read before and is so much different than anything else I’ve read. Smart, irreverent, complex, funny, dark… really enjoyed the characters and the humorous conversations that had me shaking my head at times. Although it starts off well and gets right into the story, I do think it could have used more focus and tightening, for at times it just seemed to stall out without a central goal. But that is what makes it more literary/character-driven, I suppose and overall the entire novel was one that I thought was well-crafted and entertaining. There are some POV changes that can get a tad confusing at times and the ending felt quite abrupt… almost rushed. But I like that despite the underlying message the book doesn’t take itself too serious and is a fun, different type of read that is both entertaining and enlightening. Recommend for adults. (4-5 stars) Megan King—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewer
I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was excellently written with great editing and kept my attention from the interesting opening to the satisfying (if bittersweet) ending. It is not a quick read … nor should it be. There are too many important themes here to gloss over, so the author takes his time in carefully developing the various storylines so that we the readers are thoroughly engaged the whole way through. I liked Mr. Margenau’s writing style very much – it is part serious, part quirky and tongue-in-cheek and satirical. It is funny and sad (because it’s true in a way, with all the political maneuverings, shady characters and shenanigans…). But overall just feels so real. I found myself completely lost in this world he created with these interesting, deep characters night after night. It does have moments where it is a bit longwinded and overwritten, but still an interesting ride. Was almost disappointed when I was done, but the ending gave the emotional satisfaction I look for in a good book and it make me think outside the box for a while. Well done. (4 stars) Laura Clarke—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
“National Parks” is a very compelling read, and one that will definitely appeal to fans of literary/philosophical/satire novels. Rolf Margenau infuses a unique blend of insight, dry humor, philosophy, drama, and interesting characters to tell his provocative tale. But he puts more of a ‘speculative’ spin on the traditional storytelling which makes it all the more fun. The story itself was fairly even-paced, but I thought it has too much conversation at times (chit chat) that did little to progress the plot, and it did seem to lack the type of tension that makes us just *have* to keep reading… things just sort of happen, and there isn’t really high stakes or anything… But it certainly is well written and enlightening, enjoyed the unique angle on the characters and their lively banter and entertaining turn of events and adventures. There is a bit of language but other than that it is suitable for mature teens on up. (4-5 stars) Claire Middleton—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
First, I have to say that I don’t normally read books like this, but I was looking for something a little out of my comfort zone and this book sounded intriguing, although the description was a little confusing to me (and that title is so long!!!). Well, I am most certainly glad I took the chance on Rolf Margenau’s book, “National Parks” This was a captivating novel and very thought-provoking. There is such strong, vivid writing, and the characters are all fascinating, flawed, and going through their own transitions. GREAT character development, (even if the developing situation is rather weird) and everything just felt “authentic” for lack of a better word. Dialogue, interactions, scenes, descriptions…Clean, crisp writing and humorous dialogue that really makes you think about the role of governmental influence in your life, all while being entertaining. All in all a very good read that I’d recommend even to those who don’t normally read this sort of thing…try it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised! (5 stars) Sam Ryan—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book ReviewersT
Glorious...This is the sort of original and intelligent book that is very difficult to stop reading once you start, as it bursts with action or interesting detail at every turn. I learned a great deal about Peruvian politics and history while I was entertained, and it's one of those review books I keep after reading it. Recommended. 4.5/5 stars. SPR Review
Reviewed By Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite 5 Stars
I loved the descriptions of the Andes, the cloud forest and the unspoiled beauty of Peru. High Andes is a unique and marvelous story which captures the tensions and confusion of a country torn by inequality and ripped apart by opposing political forces. This sets Wylie and his daughter Mercy down for a hiking/bonding experience that offers them and the reader a lot more excitement than they ever expected. High Andes is a highly entertaining and fast-paced thriller, and I had a lot of fun reading it. It's most highly recommended.
The Buzz- What Readers are Saying
The Commode Companion - "One of the Year's Funniest Books"
I enjoyed every page of this book...This is an excellent companion, whether in the bathroom or outside, and can hold one's interest for a long time, since the pictures tell stories and the short captions speak volumes. Roy T. James for Readers' Favorite 5 Stars
Amazon Readers say:
Irreverent and snarky - and outrageously funny! Definitely not just something to keep in the loo, because you will want to share this wit with anyone who has a penchant for puns, a puerile humor (in the best sense of the term!) or who just needs a good belly laugh. The photos are equally spot-on and genuinely gorgeous.
I received my copy as a present, but just bought two more to give as holiday gifts. I am pretty darn sure they will keep the recipients laughing into the new year and beyond.
Very Very entertaining Loved this book. Perfect for a nice bathroom book and very quickly read. I actually laughed out loud a couple of times. Definite entertainment for several minutes. Would make a great white elephant gift. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.
"Ford 56" says:
Margenau has a refreshing approach to start each chapter. Chapters begin with a gardening advice column written by one of the central characters, Bitsy. Not only is this a welcome change from the current trend to begin chapters with a quote or poem, but it is also a unique way to incorporate practical gardening tips into the book. Readers with a genuine interest in gardening might be concerned when Bitsy is unable to complete all columns.
"Master Gardener" has a story, a character, or a cause for everyone.
SAN FRANCISCO / SACRAMENTO BOOK REVIEWS
Finally, a novelist — and a very good one at that — has taken a crack at the dark side of industrial agriculture. But, although the more nefarious practices of Big Ag aren't much easier to swallow when fictionalized, this wry, sexy, politically timely novel offers more loveable characters than detestable ones, as a group of volunteer gardeners from the northeast U.S. take on the type of multinational company people love to hate.
Sprinkled with satirical send-ups of recent conservative legislation, Master Gardener ends tidily with matches made and justice served — but in surprising ways. It's a satisfying conclusion after a fun 300 pages. We witness forgiveness and justice that we'd wish for in real life, and best of all, there's room left for yet another adventure with Wylie.
Ron N. says:
I served in Korea at the same time as Wylie Cypher in the PIO of another US Army group which was there then and is still there today. As a correspondent, I had many of the same experiences as he. The anger and tears, the despairs and frustration, yes, but also the chuckles and the laughs, the oddities and foibles, and, above all, the deeply felt human experiences through it all which in large measure shaped me into who I am today.
This book is a very great tribute and honor to all those who served in Korea. If anyone ever asks me, "What was it like in Korea around the time of the Armistice and soon afterwards?" I will quietly tell them, "Read "Public Information." It's all there.
I have never written a review before, but I just had to log in and say that I am extremely pleased with this book. It's well-written, smooth, has a great story line, and good characters. It seems that most every book in the "deals" section is a horrible romance novel or something about vampires/zombies, so I am thrilled to find one that is NOT! I actually wanted to read Public Information, and I will recommend it to others - starting with you!
Pistils and Poetry
Susanna Gordon says:
I enjoyed reading Pistils and Poetry and found it enthralling. The book offers an engaging presentation of "timeless" sonnets. The author has coupled a stunning floral photograph with each sonnet and informs the reader about the lives and works of the Elizabethan poets in a most delightful way. I was so enchanted by the book that I have sent it to friends as a gift on many occasions.