"All The Dark We Will Not See" is a compelling, utterly original novel that savagely and hilariously
explores what went wrong in this country a couple of decades ago, and that keeps going wrong even now.
Neff is a raucous new voice in American literature.
Robert Olen Butler
All the Dark We Will Not See is a historical novel based on a true story that takes us back to 1984 Washington, D.C. It allows us
to live a life both profound and pedestrian, yet frighteningly real,
and at times, even surreal. The foundational circumstance is the
aftermath of a major corporate siege that overthrew the city and
planted its flags in full view of the Reagan White House. Many of us
who worked in Washington watched it happen with a predictable
sense of awe and foreboding. We all had tales to tell, tales that few
outside the city would ever believe.
Two young idealists in Washington risk all in an effort to halt a corporate crime juggernaut and save lives in the process. Written in a literary magic-realist style, "All The Dark We Will Not See" tells the story of the most corrupt regime in American history.
When the novel was first conceived many years later, serious issues presented themselves
for consideration, first and foremost being point of view. It would
be relatively simple to create a White House character for purposes
of observing insider intrigue and criminality—a Reagan apostle
like Peggy Noonan, for example. But given my own experience
in the bowels of the Executive, and having observed and studied
the trickle-down effect of White House psychology and political
culture, I realized the story would be better served by adopting
the viewpoint of those who were a few degrees removed from
the rarefied air of the Oval Office. The story would be told not by
characters who wielded power like narcissist sociopaths, but by
those who lived daily with the consequences of it, and who either
resisted or amplified that power for their own ends.
Everyone in 1984 Washington who opposed the Leviathan, who
put their reputations and lives on the line regardless of political
affiliation, did so not because they desired glory, but because they
still believed in a world where right would win out. Most lived to be
terribly disappointed, for "doing the right thing" rarely if ever made
a difference during that era—now glossed over by many and made
to appear like a Camelot interlude.
Regardless, despite their reversals and the drama played out
during those years of turmoil, redemption and hope are found in
the knowledge that real heroes struggled to do the right thing for us,
however futile that struggle often became. Some succeeded, others
failed, but their sacrifices and battles, their enemies and betrayers,
as detailed in "All The Dark We Will Not See," reveal an injustice
none of us can afford to ignore. As Dostoyevsky once said, "Tyranny
is a habit, it grows upon us."
NOTE: the setting of this novel is based on a real place in Washington established by law to combat corruption and protect the whistleblowers who expose it. The characters are based on real people who lived and worked in Washington during the Reagan years, and the reality of the novel as a whole is based on a true story pieced together from Hill hearings, reports, and interviews with OSC staff who remain anonymous.
The Struggle For America's Soul Begins
"All The Dark We Will Not See" accurately portrays an important period in American political history
wherein the struggle for democracy took a wrong turn ...
Chief Counsel, Government Accountability Project
1984. Ronald Reagan's biggest year.
The culture of America had changed. It was more selfish and less fair, and certainly, less tolerant. To be a Democrat meant you were weak and foolish. To espouse political centrism meant you were insane, or at least, twice as foolish as a Democrat. The desire for wealth and power overshadowed America in so many ways while true democracy became even more of a dream. Under Reagan's influence the struggle for America's soul had begun, a struggle that continues even now.
The culture of America had changed ... To be a Democrat meant you were weak and foolish. To espouse political centrism meant you were insane, or at least, twice as foolish as a Democrat.
Swept into office by national turmoil and President Carter's considerable troubles, the charismatic corporate pitchman and Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, along with a swarm of camp-followers and political zealots, arrived in Washington with a mandate to bury the legacy of John F. Kennedy once and for all, and to prove, by any means necessary, that their version of Republicanism and its values of anti-labor, warhawk fist-pounding, "proper devotion" to God, dangerous budget deficits, and unbridled Ayn Rand capitalism were not only in the ascendant, but fit to form the basis of a privileged ruling elite for many years to come.
As a bonus for the Reagan Republicans, the corporate conquest of the American government had also begun, and of the hundreds of billions in reward that conquest made possible. More public officials in the Reagan administration were accused and/or convicted of corruption and criminal acts than at any other time in American history. Even now, and unbelievably, the record has not been surpassed.
ALL THE DARK WE WILL NOT SEE is a novel that in large measure commemorates the experiences of the whistleblowers of the Reagan era, men and women of common sense and courage trapped in a surreal world of utter dishonesty and denial. Living with them in the novel, we cannot help but endure the world of Reagan and his monstrosity, the "shining city on the hill" overrun by corporate lobbyists, corrupt bureaucrats with positive attitudes, and political hit men prepared to "defend the President" at all costs.
The Story of Laney Dracos and Edison Eden
Michael Neff's debut novel is a stunning performance—
a book that puts me in mind of Mark Twain after a ten year prison term locked in a cell with Laurence Sterne.
Author of "Bruce Almighty"
The White House officials who stand in their way, however, are adamant and ruthless. Their plan is to clear the field for their corporate clients by making the government safe from real public scrutiny for all time to come—and with tens of billions at stake, the servants of corporate Washington will use any means necessary to protect the mobsters who pull strings and triggers in every agency from the "Star Wars" Pentagon down to the trash-collecting GSA.
The place is Washington, D.C., and the year, 1984. The ruthless dictatorship envisioned by George Orwell has not come to pass.
Or has it?
Under the presidency of former Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, the struggle for America's soul has begun—a trial of conscience and idealism versus idolatry and political dictatorship. Democracy is fading, and one woman in a solitary small agency created by Congress, the Office of Whistleblower Counsel, is determined to save it.
The White House officials who stand in the way, however, are adamant and ruthless. Their plan is to clear the field for their corporate clients by making the government safe from real public scrutiny for all time to come, and with tens of billions at stake, the servants of corporate America will use any means necessary to protect the mobsters who pull strings and triggers in every agency from the "Star Wars" Pentagon down to the trash-collecting GSA.
Arriving to complicate the mix is Edison Eden, an activist from the heartland. Like thousands of other young and dangerously naive idealists, he is anxious to devote his life to public service. However, no sooner does he arrive at his new job on K Street, than things begin to go wrong. After overcoming various human obstacles, he is shocked out of his wits by senior investigator Laney Dracos—a powerful insider known around Washington as an "agenda-sly Democrat" who wants to destroy President Reagan.
In the weeks which follow, Edison learns to forsake office politics and doggedly pursue his mission to provide aid and succor to terrorized government employees. Unknown to him though, he is being scrutinized and his fate judged, not only by White House minions, but by a secret resistance organization known as "The American Watch" led by none other than Laney Dracos.
Like her partisan companions in the Watch, she rejects cooperation with the Reagan regime and plans for its demise with the help of the fourth estate. However, when Edison falls in love with her and becomes an overly enthusiastic sidekick in her war on corporate Washington, she is inevitably forced to choose between her honor or her life.
Classical and postmodern, Neff's novel captures a world where surreal is the norm. Set during the Reagan era, eerily evocative of my tour at the Pentagon during the Nixon era (when "loyalty" meant blind obedience), it turns out to be prescient of what's happening today in Washington. As reported last week in the New Yorker and on Sixty Minutes, Thomas Drake, a former Air Force officer, NSA intelligence expert, and conservative Republican, faces thirty-five years in prison for leaking info to a congressional oversight committee about massive waste and ineptitude at NSA that contributed to the intelligence failure leading up to 9/11. It happened during George W's administration, but the current "administration of change" continues to press the case. Good deeds being punished will make perfect sense after reading Neff's brilliant work of fiction.
During his years in Washington, Michael was inspired by courageous women and men who told the truth about corruption and criminality in Washington—termed "whistleblowers" by their peers. While employed in management and budgetary job series in the administrations of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton and two years of Bush Jr., he also learned just how much the U.S. government hated these whistleblower types (and with good reason). Nevertheless, at GSA during the early Bush Jr. years he blew the whistle on GSA's failed stewardship of federal advisory committees and the never-ending corporate corruption infecting them. Upon parting ways with Washington, Michael (in his role as publisher and editor of literary journals such as Del Sol Review) worked closely with the ACLU and other plaintiffs to successfully defeat Internet censorship laws instigated by the religious right in battleground states like Michigan and Arizona. Years later he volunteered to work with the Government Accountability Project, lobbying offices on Capitol Hill for greater whistleblower protections.
His literary work has appeared in many national publications including North American Review, Quarterly West, Pittsburgh Quarterly, The Literary Review, American Way Magazine, and Conjunctions. He was one of the winners of the first Imitation William Faulkner Contest sponsored by the University of Mississippi and has served as judge for various writing contests including the Writer's Digest Finalist Prize for best short fiction. In addition, he is the director of Algonkian Writer Conferences, chief editor of The Writer's Edge blog, and publisher of Del Sol Press.
Prior to his years with Uncle Sam, Michael worked as a brick mason, roofer, waiter, telemarketer (two weeks in hell), various "sales" jobs (more weeks in hell), and for Royal American Shows as a carnival worker touring the deep south and selling trinkets on the midway (worse than hell). He was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. His mother was Jewish, and his father, a Swiss Catholic. As a young boy he was forced to go to Catholic school for 12 long years.
This explains many things.
And by the way, he would like to thank Walter Cummins, editor chief of Serving House Books, for his infinite patience.
A Dose of Prose From "All The Dark We Will Not See"
Once more, the boss face grows calm as a hurricane-eye. He intends to approach as a shrewd dick, recover his potency, re-evaluate Eden's aptitude for loyalty (and that was important above all things, for the Office of Whistleblower Counsel needed protection from leaks and liberals). But even now, his plans are in doubt, for the restaurant has begun to wax vague and finicky, intolerant of all human presence. No one suspects that Edison Eden's imagination possesses the power to denature and transmogrify the quivering atoms of the Georgetown eatery. Before the boss can utter another word, Edison lashes out. He starts with a simple frying pan. It hurtles out of the kitchen, skims Hunsecker's head and whirls across the dining room like a loose helicopter blade to knock one of the Washingtonians unconscious--ricocheting off his forehead with a loud kuh-whang and skidding to rest in a plate of Caesar salad. At the same time, the faux-plants in glass begin to squirm and seep loose into the walls. Some of them imbed snugly in the gypsum and crisp to fossils. Others slide like melting plates of wax to the floor, congealing there to fly-trap mouths that squeak like tortured mice and scurry in search of toe prey.
Special Thanks to
Channel 10 in Fairfax
for Their Studios
About The Film
Director - Rahmin Atarod
Writer and Producer - Michael B. Neff
Two young government employees meet in a D. C. bar after work to debate the facts concerning the growing corruption in their agency. Laney Dracos, a gritty and sharp veteran of the Washington wars, attempts to convince the naive newcomer, Edison Eden, to join in her plan to resist and expose the White House regime of Ronald Reagan. Edison, however, remains skeptical. He is reluctant to accept Laney's argument due to his own ignorance, the fact that he actually hero-worships Ronald Reagan, and also because his new job at the agency is too precious to lose when compared to the miserable job situation in his hometown of Kenosha.
MUSINGS AND FACTOIDS
The Washington D.C. agency referred to in the film by Laney Dracos as "the OWC" is based on a real government agency known as OSC, or the Office of Special Counsel.
Social Darwinism - Laney uses it as her basis for understanding the evolution of corruption in Washington. She means it not in the classic sense of an argument for superiority, but as a means to explain the manner whereby a corrupt system relentlessly weeds out those who cannot be corrupted until, as she puts it, "only the favorite scales remain."
The "Presence Chamber" referred to by Laney as having appeared in a story by the Russian writer, Gogol, was actually an "audience chamber" used by a minor Czarist bureaucrat to terrify subordinates and anyone else he considered an inferior.
"Pickering and motive and nexus" - Laney is making reference to the ways in which the agency created special tests to determine the nature of a whistleblower. Of course, virtually no one could pass the test (at least, no one that mattered). For example, if the "speech" resulted in a condition of office "disruption" it was not "protected" speech, and therefore, the individual in question could not be a whistleblower.