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Charles S. Kraszewski

Accomplices, You Ask?

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Three U.S. Presidents are assassinated over the space of six months, an opportune missile strike by North Korea obliterates San Francisco, Mexico repudiates the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Russia invades Alaska “to protect Russian interests in the Trans-Bering region,” Cuba begins to push up the Florida peninsula... a catastrophic chain of events precipitated by a mild-mannered bassist on a jog — all because he buys the wrong Beatles album on his I-phone. This is C.S. Kraszewski’s grotesque comic novel Accomplices, You Ask? If you thought the nation was divided now, just wait and see what happens when the Exército Mexicano reaches the west bank of the Mississippi. And please. Stay away from waffle irons.

Many books tell us how Big History affects the fate of ordinary people, but from this one we learn about the tangled fates of a bunch of friends from Nowhere, Northeastern Pennsylvania, that led to a worldwide catastrophe and the fall of the United States. In a funny and brilliant way, the talented author describes a peculiar butterfly effect, as seemingly insignificant facts have dramatic consequences on a global scale. Accomplices, You Ask? is a masterpiece of storytelling with thousands of inspiring digressions and references to the contemporary culture, especially rock music. Do yourself a favor and let yourself be guided through the astounding meanders and complex interdependencies of Ray Verano and associates’ doings, not only to find out how they unleashed World War III, but above all to have a great time.
—Andrzej Kotański, author of Poems about my Psychiatrist

Charles S. Kraszewski prefaces his novel with the assurance that everything that is about to unfold before the reader’s eyes is fiction. Phew. For the novel is about catastrophe. The geopolitical order of the world, at the center of which was found the USA, falls to pieces. How could such a thing happen? It turns out to have been caused by the mistaken purchase of a Beatles album. The apocalypse turns out to be absurd — or, the absurdity of our daily life can become apocalyptic. One has to be careful, then: if it’s Abbey Road you want to buy, make sure you don’t grab Sgt. Pepper’s. In general it’s better to be careful... But is this at all possible? Can we avoid the tangle of coincidences, of which our lives are gnarled? The narrator weaves various, ironic strands into his account, building a plot chock-full of erudite and timely cultural contexts. Accomplices, You Ask? is a daringly conceived novel, fast-flowing and witty, built up of brilliant dialogues and narratorial commentary. The reader will have a great time as a whirl of musical, literary, and philosophical allusions whizz by in scenes full of the comedy of daily life. It’s all fiction. And yet — does that make it impossible? Can the apocalypse, on which we meditate ever more frequently, arise from a mistake, a simple mistake?
—Michał Kuziak, Professor, University of Warsaw, Department of Comparative Literature

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