May 2018 | Ipswich, MA |Set in rural Ohio in the 1950s, in a world before #MeToo, Pleasure and Power explores the weight of race, secrets, and the misogyny and sexism that women face in a white man’s world. Seductive and unsettling, the novel traces the intertwined fates of three people. Ruby, a black teen, wants to protect her helpless older sister. Jake, a charming white salesman, dreams of political prestige. Conservative Alice clings to her virtue and values. When a mixed race baby is born inside a mental ward, their lives are thrown together in desperately complex ways, setting events in motion that incite deep questions of right and wrong. Ruby, Jack, and Alice each have secrets to protect. Ultimately, revenge may be only way out.
Author Doug Brendel’s simmering novel veers from the humorous commentary he’s known for as the author of a blog and popular book series that focus on the quirks of small-town habits and politics through the lens of a newcomer in New England. But Brendel says his new book also has a basis in social and political observation and experience.
“For years, I had this dark, complicated story lurking inside me and finally I had to exorcise it,” Brendel says. “The drama and characters come first, but in this novel I’m also asking critical and current questions — not only do black lives matter, but also do half-black lives matter more? Or less? And how much is a person worth if he or she doesn’t know who their father was?”
Such questions are personal for Brendel, who has a mixed race family. He and his wife Kristina adopted a son and daughter, before giving birth to their third child. “Our eldest child, Natalie, is African-American. Our son, Kristofer, has blue eyes and blond hair. So questions of racial harmony and issues revolving around birth parents have been part of our family for three decades,” Brendel says. “Pleasure and Power raises those issues, but is by no means autobiographical. This is a story that challenges readers to decide what they believe about justice and revenge.”
Doug Brendel is a writer, speaker, and humanitarian. He blogs at Outsidah.com and is the author of the “Only in Ipswich” books, which include his cartoon illustrations. Doug works professionally as a copywriter of direct mail fundraising letters for nonprofit organizations. Some of his books deal with this industry. He previously served as a clergyman for 15 years and led a drama ministry. Pleasure and Power is the author’s debut novel. He lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts with his family.
Pleasure and Power: A Novel, Dragonhead Press, March 2018, ISBN # 978-1-984923844, Paperback, 236 pages, $14.99, Kindle edition, ASIN: B07B92B74M, $2.99, http://www.dragonheadpress.com/