Robert Foster is the Mississippi Republican best known for trying and failing to make “My Truck, My Rules” a thing. His father, the surgeon Mike Foster, wrote an apocalyptic novel called The Right to Bear Arms.
The Right to Bear Arms is an arrogant and incompetent work that has only achieved a small popularity by throwing in a huge dose of right wing culture war talking points.
This is not the only thing that it has in common with Robert Foster’s campaign.
I read most of The Right to Bear Arms.
I say “most,” and I am not one to quit a novel early. I WILL finish a book. Even if I don’t like where it’s going (Bear) or how long it takes me to get there (Shardik), I will finish a book, especially if it’s about bears.
I did not finish Doctor Foster’s book, The Right to Bear Arms.
It is not about bears.
It is about apocalyptic riots that trap a surgeon in his hospital, and his heroic trek to get to his family, survive, and do other prepper stuff while adamantly insisting he’s “not a prepper.” I would call it “disaster porn,” if that didn’t do a tremendous disservice to the pornography community.
That’s it, that’s what it’s about, but Foster spends about twenty of the 470 pages on this average plot. The majority of the rest is spent listening to any of the handful of interchangeable male leads go on rants identical to the rambling prologue.
I need to tell you about the writing, in which Foster uses a unique technique, turning the old writing adage of “show, don’t tell,” on its head.
Instead, Foster tells. And then, he tells it to you again, with slightly different wording. Then he straight up tells you again. Sometimes, he’ll mix it up by telling you one more time.
The gist of Foster’s apocalypse is this: America does too much socialism, runs out of money, the poor people riot, and the police aren’t violent enough to suppress them. The rioters destroy all the cities, then spread out into the country like a swarm of murderous, rapist locusts. Foster lays this out in the prologue, then goes on to lay it out at least once per chapter, every chapter, for the rest of the book.
Without all the right-wing trappings, a bare-bones version of this plot could have sat in the background, simmering up some slow-cooked racism, like an episode of 24 left on at an airport.
But that would take a competent writer without an all-consuming ego.
Mike Foster is not that writer. No, Foster sticks to a formula. First, Mike Foster, the author and surgeon, tells you that socialism will cause the literal end of the world, usually repeating something from the prologue.
Then, Mark Edwards, the fictional surgeon, will talk about how amazing he is and how surgeons are pretty much better than God, who if he’d done his job right, would have made us all aware of how in-awe we should be in the presence of surgeons.
Then, there will be a rant by either Mark, Mike, Grandpa, Gunny, or one of the other interchangeable male protagonists about What’s Wrong With the World. Sometimes it’s generic bible babble. I honestly expected more Jesus, but I imagine Mike can’t handle the idea of someone healing without him.
Sometimes the rant is generic misogyny, such as when the wives get turned on by men making their decisions for them, or find that housework makes them happier than shopping.
Sometimes it’s an aside that you might not peg as racist until the author adamantly insists that the rant in question is NOT RACIST.
In a surely unrelated and unracist detail, every single black character we meet is instantly and immediately terrified of the gun-toting white dude who is only here to save them, but the interchangeable male protagonists and narrator always stop just short of calling them The Real Racists for being afraid.
Sometimes, to mix it up, a pitiable soft-hearted liberal man will bemoan the situation before being set right by Protagonist Doctor Mann Whiteguy, or his buddy, Army Medic White Mannguy, or a woman will act in a way that suggests the author has never actually met a conscious woman.
In other asides, someone from the government will condone stealing from the rich to give to the poor, usually while wringing their hands about how “it’s the law” and “it’s politically popular,” which suggests that Mike Foster is from the alternate reality that spawns talk radio grifters.
At this point, the "not a racist, but" rant will be interrupted by ACTION, usually detailing how good Mark Edwards is with guns, surgery, and manliness, while Mike Foster shows off jargon, either about guns or surgery. Unfortunately, Mike Foster never became a Men’s Rights Activist, and therefore our world is poorer for a lack of jargon about masculinity thrown in.
If you’re confused about the Mike Foster/Mark Edwards thing, I will come right out and say it: Mark Edwards is a Mary Sue, an obvious authorial insert of a protagonist.
Perhaps you’re having trouble remembering. Just to recount, Mark Edwards is the brilliant SURGEON from Batesville who practices the MIRACLE OF SURGERY in Southhaven, Mississippi. On the other hand, MIKE Foster is a brilliant surgeon from Hernando, who practices the MIRACLE OF SURGERY in Southaven, Mississippi.
While it is generally accepted that surgeons have ego issues on scales usually reserved for Greek Gods, Mike/Mark goes above and beyond. We are informed of his “good looks and brains,” his “wit and air of confidence,” how he is in good shape, practices krav maga, and lest we think he’s a self-aggrandizing blowhard, Mike tells us that Mark is “not conceited or stuck on himself,” which is an interesting thing to say in the middle of a paragraph about how great you are.
Of course, Mark goes into medicine for the usual reason, “to defy death himself, rather than rely on God.” While I applaud this humanist tendency Mark claims to have dropped in his youth, it seems a bit much from a guy who’s web MD page says he does “Breast Biopsy, Circumcision, Colonoscopy, and Destruction of Lesions on the Anus.
Imagine having your surgeon give you this little spiel before destroying the lesions on your anus: “No one else could do what surgeons do - there were no substitutes, no replacements, no one to fill in, or even try. No one else who could, or would, invade the sanctity of the human body, cut into another human being and rearrange, remove, bypass, or repair their insides.”
I checked out Mike Foster’s Web MD ratings, and I was honestly surprised by them. He gets 1.5 stars on his ability to “Explain conditions and treatments,” to “provide follow-up as needed” and a similarly low score for “takes time to answer my questions.”
This is unimaginable to me, as every single page of this book contains an explanation of the problem of The Takers (his name for the rioters who only take from the good people of America), a follow-up that isn’t needed, and copious amounts of space answering questions you didn’t have.
After a few hours alone with Mike Foster’s ego, I understand why his son is such a failure. Poor guy probably doesn’t know anything because he’s afraid that asking will lead to hours of ranting.
Do you want to know more about the oft-explained antagonists, though? Or are you more concerned with the question, “is this a money laundering exercise?” It’s a good question, the physical copy of the book costs 16 bucks. I have no idea how many were sold, but many of the highlighted quotes in my kindle unlimited version had hundreds of highlights. Those highlights were also indistinguishable from white supremacist rants about America the Christian Nation.
Anyway, the badguys are forgettable, cliched pastiches, but at the beginning of the book, they get their own space. For every 2 or 3 chapters spent with Mann Whiteguy and his Army Buddies, we get a chapter about the national situation at large.
These chapters do not deviate from the formula. The rants about socialism come from a republican senator subtly named “Senator Sage,” who at one point literally slams his fists on his table and decries the situation on the streets by screaming “This is socialism, I say we send in the damn army, right now.”
In later chapters, said army becomes the badguys, thanks to a SCORNED WOMAN and SOCIALISM.
The chapters with the badguys have a different set of equally forgettable characters. The enemies of America are an ensemble cast, they are, and I quote: “Reverend Jesse Bryant of the National Civil Rights Coalition, Mr. Andrew Smith of the New Socialist Party, and Abdul Hakeem of the National Islamic Party.”
At least, for the first couple of chapters, before they’re forgotten entirely, and the action shifts to the Evil Government coming to take Doctor Foster - I mean, Edwards’ - farm. The Army decides to take the farm, because apparently they need guns, which are illegal in this America, but everyone has them. The army also needs supplies, because the army doesn’t have guns, or supplies, which somewhat defeats the purpose of being an army.
Everything is very unclear. The rioters are demanding money to be made comfortable, so they destroy the cities in an effort to become more comfortable. The preppers are very embarrassed about being preppers, but brag about it. The militia isn’t about ordering anyone around. Half-thought out ideas spill from the pages like it was written to the tune of a talk radio scream-session filtered through a Mississippi senator.
Said Farm is where most of the novel takes place, in the Good Wholesome Countryside, where nobody is on welfare and everyone works for a living. Here we are treated to Doctor Foster’s ideal world, where sharecroppers “lived and worked on the farm, side by side with the owner,” where women are glad men take over to make the hard calls, and where whippersnappers in diners get their asses beat by old men.
In the real world, Robert Foster, Mike Foster’s son, follows the “Mike Pence Rule,” where he cannot, under any circumstances, be left alone with a woman. The fact that this comes up in a book his egomaniac father wrote is something that a competent therapist should work on.
Yes, the Mike Pence, aka Billy Graham rule (Billy could not be left alone with a woman, just like Jesus) needs to be followed, even in the apocalypse. You see, one of the main problems the protagonists face is a woman scorned! The chapter about this is titled “A Woman Scorned,” because Foster is very subtle.
When Mike Edwards, who is unable to be resisted by any mortal woman, is left alone with a poor hormonal nurse, “Cindy,” she cannot control herself! I would cite the pages Doctor Foster writes to describe this sequence of events, but I would prefer not to permanently destroy the sex drives of my notoriously horny readers.
It does include the phrase “firm young breasts,” which is no doubt a reassurance for anyone going to Doctor Foster for a breast biopsy.
But after the mistake of being left alone with Cindy not once, but twice - the beaten-down, hormone-raging, stress-addled trauma victim Mark Edwards succumbs to the sins of the flesh and kisses a woman who is not his wife in a libido-withering sequence I shall not inflict upon you. She is then driven mad with jealousy and begins to plot against them.
Quite a bit that happens after this, including a lot of very unsportsmanlike murder on the part of our heroes, and of course, page after page of word-wall rants that I honestly skipped over to get to the ending.
It ends the only way it could. Doctor Edwards causes an entire military company to come under his control and sympathy just by being so good of a surgeon that they accept him as their leader.
They are so enamored of this natural leader (the author calls him an “Alpha Male” a number of times that is uncomfortably higher than “zero,”) that they listen to him give a rambling, incoherent speech about the constitution, partially cribbed from noted American Man, Margaret Thatcher.
These professional soldiers are so entranced by his display of manliness, that they let him beat up their captain before a general steps in. This general is so impressed that most of his men go against the rules of the army and nation, and follow their savior, Doctor Edwards. For freedom, for surgery, and so that nobody ever does socialism around them, ever again.
This is not an exaggeration.
I will be voting for Robert Foster in the 2019 primary, because now I know that if he does become governor, his own father will be forced to create a militia to stop him.
Please do not read the book A Right to Bear Arms under any circumstance.