The Left/Behind Series: An Apocalypse for the Rest of Us

Stan Wankey

Issue 19 * Fall 2006

For those of us profoundly Left and those whom contemporary politics seem to have regressed beneath, and those liberated enough to enjoy a good raunchy buttock scene, Eric A. Dong's Left/Behind series may provide the ultimate in leisure reading and cosmic revenge fantasies. Set in the not-too-distant future, the series begins with the tribulations of those Red State fundamentalists who have fled the global-warming-induced drought that has stricken the country's interior. They force effete Blue Staters back to the Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, and Oklahoma small towns they once fled themselves so they could be secular and sexual and liberal and spend a lot on coffee.

In the first book, Titulation, our hero and heroine, Guthrie Lenograd and Natasha Rosenstarr, are forced out of their Greenwich Village flat by a crystal-meth addicted born-again manager of an Orscheln feed store who invades their little pleasure palace wielding a lever-action .30-30 and a First Blood commemorative Bowie knife replete with grappling spikes and a compass in the handle.

Lenograd and Rosenstarr don't put up much of a fight, partially because they don't have any deadly weapons, being good commie-pacifists, and what weapons they do have are pink or covered in feathers and fur. Because, as befits them, Lenograd and Rosenstarr are into the rough stuff - but just for fun. This, however, brings me to an important point: the Left/Behind series is the first to combine serious apocalyptic literature with hardcore S/M erotica. The result is of questionable taste but tremendous reader interest, at least, from the point of view of those sophisticated enough to appreciate experimental fiction.

The couple manage to restrain their backwoods invader with a pair of leopard-print fuzzy handcuffs for long enough to pack up their Ani DiFranco CD collection and torture the redneck a little by performing a male-submissive scene, gladly entered unto by Lenograd and supplely applied by Rosenstarr.

They leave hurriedly after the rampaging NASCAR fan breaks free and take to their heels with only minor regret. They know something the Red Stater does not know - or refuses to believe: Manhattan is drowning. Global warming, again, having gotten its clutches around the North and South poles, has sent sea levels rising rapidly, and in a few short weeks, New York City, most of Florida, and huge chunks of the Eastern seaboard, the West coast, Texas, Louisiana, other Gulf states will become inundated. Lenograd and Rosenstarr pack their espresso machine and their patchouli into their specially-sealed, bio-diesel-converted VW Microbus, and head out for the crispy interior.

What they find when they finally get there is the nucleus of a Pinko Paradise. Already the lonely streets of Omaha and Topeka are filling with bleary-eyed leftists. Some have managed to spirit away photovoltaic panels and small wind generators and have set them up, producing enough power for the occasional mocha latte. Pipes are scrounged and modified with primitive equipment to set up drip irrigation in the recently-wasted ground. And all around is heat.

Heat, of course, means fewer clothes. Fewer clothes mean closer to nude. And with this many desperate, horny liberals around, close to nude means free love. Sex flows prodigiously in the first book's final chapters, an orgy of seed-spilling, pent up progressive energies being blown off in the face of newfound liberation from the force of neocon uptightedness.

The love scenes themselves - multiethnic, bisexual, hetero, lesbian, and gay – all seem to be furtively, sometimes furiously, driving home a point: we didn't need you right-wing fuddy-duddies anyway.

Meanwhile, conditions on the flooded coasts worsen, just as the first harvest of organically grown quinoa is brought in from the Mall Of America cum hydroponic greenhouse, and our heroes are dispatched to survey the discord on the newly conservative remnants of the East Coast. There the first book leaves us, setting up Dong for the inevitable and much anticipated sequel. Now the fighting must begin – or the negotiation? Given Dong's commitment to creating believable left-wing characters (beyond the caricatures and repentance-of-all-things-‘60s so common among so many Baby Boom writers of today), it would be disappointing if he did not make an attempt at showing the power of non-violent direct action.

It's difficult to tell if Dong is up to the ideological task, but no matter what the second installment of the Left/Behind series brings, we can be sure that the lovemaking, between the warmongering and the peacemaking too, will be both copious and hot.