Requiem for the Second Amendment.

Jun 27, 2024
Dimitris Passas

As Gary Younge observes in the Guardian review of Paul Auster's Bloodbath Nation (read it here): "There is an atavistic attachment to firearms in America that places the gun at the center of some of the nation's most cherished myths". Auster's polemic against the horrors of unfettered gun ownership in contemporary America struck a chord not only with those who are labeled as liberals but also with a growing number of U.S. citizens who have witnessed too many senseless crimes committed by men with guns in their hands. Eric Rickstad's Lilith may be a fictional thriller-like story but in its core, the novel is as enlightening regarding its main subject as ten non-fiction as a handful of non-fiction accounts. The story revolves around the protagonist's pain, grief, and thirst for vengeance after a school shooting incident leaves her little boy critically injured and marked for life. The title is a reference to the young woman's pseudonym which she uses as she carries out her well-thought-out act of revenge against those in power who profit from selling guns indiscriminately. However, her reprisal brings about an unwanted side-effect. Lilith becomes a heroine in the eyes of young women who wish to put an end to the oppression of patriarchy as manifested in manifold ways today. Her moniker becomes a motto emblazoned on t-shirts and inspires a revolution by the members of the weaker sex. The protagonist is initially suspicious of the ways her actions are interpreted and snubs her "fans". She is all in for actually doing something, no more words, someone must stand up and do what's necessary in order for no other parent to experience what she did. We follow the main character's revenge plan from its inception to its conclusion while Rickstad is also keen on crafting apt descriptions of her new domestic reality, having a son who is largely incapacitated as a result of the horrific attack. Rickstad deftly avoids the pitfall of didacticism as he desires to tell a story, first and foremost And so he does, in a measured pace and keeping alive the suspense until the denoument. I have to admit that there were times, especially during the first chapters when I thought of abandoning the novel altogether due to the harrowing descriptions of the little child's injuries. They were too much for me, even though narrative-wise, they incite the story's action. The author is not afraid to take sides and positions himself among those who detest gun use. I respect his stance and the fact that he invented a fictional story to advocate in favor of more gun control, renders his venture more than a worthwhile read. Lilith is destined to keep you on edge throughout and you'll certainly find yourself pondering on the current grim reality of blind public shootouts and striving to pinpoint its causes. It's not a lengthy novel, just below 300 pages, so it makes for a perfect two-sitting read. This was the second novel by Rickstad that I've read after I Am Not Who You Think I Am, and he solidified his standing as one of the most promising new voices in today's American crime fiction.

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