The George Washington Constellation
Available at Amazon
Everyone goes to Washington full of high hopes, determined to change the system, and many of them get "chewed up and spit out" as the old saying goes. A long-term watcher of the Washington political scene, Edward Correia's resume includes working as a senior lawyer for the Senate Judiciary Committee, serving in the Clinton Administration as Special Council to the President for Civil Rights, and working as both an attorney and Adjunct Professor at American University's Washington College of Law. He's seen it all go by. This book is a departure from his more cerebral non-fiction, "The Uncertain Believer: Reconciling God and Science," (2000) and "Teaching Your Child About God in a Scientific World," (2012), but uses fiction to show us the insiders view of Washington, warts and all.
David Buckthorn is the protagonist. An idealistic, go-getter with incredible energy who gets himself elected to the Senate, willing to do whatever it takes to serve his constituents well, David discovers that serving in Washington is a bit like an Indiana Jones movie. Even with the most honorable intentions, and a solid intelligence, that understandable naivete, typical for the newly-initiated, leads him into territory that can only be described as a jungle. Threats and traps are everywhere, and he not only has to think on his feet, but sometimes he has to think like a snake (why do they have to be snakes?) just to survive. Is the newbie Congressman going to fold under the pressure, or is it going to turn him into someone he's not, someone his wife would never have married?
The title refers (no spoilers) to an incident in his life where he is told, and believes for years, something that is patently untrue, and there's an undercurrent in the book relating to our heartfelt beliefs that sometimes have just as little reality when the real world and our theoretical constructs collide. The real world is considerably less predictable, and has some lethal unseen dangers, especially in DC.
As is often the case in life, an unexpected non-political event becomes the tipping-point for David's ethical dilemma. While this story seems to come to a non-cliff hanging ending, there are hints that there is more to come, and sure enough, when you hit the last page, there it is: "Watch for the sequel to 'The George Washington Constellation,' 'Elysia,' available in 2013."
I found the book very easy to read, and recommend it to anyone who wants a birds-eye-view of the world we think we understand. Granted, some things had to be adjusted, no doubt, for the sake of the storytelling, which is very well done, but the overview is fascinating. I will admit there were a couple of typos that the editor definitely should have caught, but overall it's a thought-provoking novel, especially for the political junkies among us.