Chad Blair: Josh Green: doctor, politician – and novelist?

I have always been impressed when elected officials of yesterday and today write a work of fiction. To me, that shows they’re not just obsessed with power and politics, although that’s also true.

Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Winston Churchill, Boris Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Newt Gingrich, Barbara Boxer from California, Gary Hart from Colorado and Stacy Abrams from Georgia.

Add to that list Hawaii’s Neil Abercrombie, co-writer of “Blood of Patriots,” a terrorist thriller released in 1997.

And former state senator Will Espero posted “Passion In Paradise,” which Amazon said concerns two influential and powerful families competing in Hawaii’s political and business world “confronting current issues and events that impact their island paradise”.

Why do politicians turn to fiction?

“Fiction lets you say all the things that you can’t say as a politician, because those things are supposed to be secret, or as a journalist, because those things are defamatory.” give a writer’s opinion for the Sydney Morning Herald.

book cover of The Idea Man

Here’s another reason, according to a 2018 piece in Politico“If you can’t beat them at the polls, beat them in your increasingly elaborate fictional worlds.”

To my surprise, Hawaii Lieutenant Governor Josh Green also put words to his own work. It’s called “The Idea Man: A Novel of Adventure, Friendship, and the Secret of Life”, a work of “fiction for youth, from 8 years old” published by Loihi Press in 2010.

Here’s a tease from the editor:

“The fantastical adventures we all suspected to take place somewhere in the wide world, sometimes even very close to home, come to life on the pages of Josh Green’s earliest work of fiction. Meet Larry Plum, his best friend Boy, Chief Walter Bigfoot, Zeus Harrison, Wolfgang Bug, and an eccentric cast of characters who defy the experiences of the normal world as we know them. And if you want to know the secret of life, this novel is for you!

I don’t think this blurb quite captures “The Idea Man”, which is illustrated by local artist Krystal Tavares, giving it the look of children’s classics “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Phantom Tollbooth”. .

But Green’s book is ultimately like a collection of parables featuring Boy and the elusive but wise beyond his Plum years. Both characters age throughout the book, from young children to men in their 90s.

Among the many “Plumismes” – kinds of Zen koans, as if they were pronounced by Yoda in “Star Wars” – that can be found in “The Idea Man”, there is this one: “C’ looking for yourself is terrifying; you never know what you might not find.

Pennsylvania childhood

It’s pretty clear to me that Boy is Green himself. Many scenes take place in Pittsburgh, for example, Green’s hometown. As Boy reaches adulthood, he becomes a doctor. And he struggles to lose his hair.

“Yeah, the book is definitely drawn from some of my life experiences, and so are the main characters,” Green told me. “Boy is loosely based on me. And the other main character, Plum, his best friend, is a combination or an amalgamation of many of my best friends over the years and the quirks they have.

There is also a chapter on first names and their meanings. Green’s middle name is Booth – “an unusual name”, he says – which comes from the Booth household in Woodstock, New York, where Green says his mother gave birth. (Green was born in Kingston, NY) He is named, he said, for a distant relative of John Wilkes Booth – yes, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green and Congressman Ed speak at the Hawaii Democratic Party Unity Breakfast on Sunday, August 14, 2022. CivilBeat Photos Ronen Zilberman.
Lieutenant Governor Josh Green and Congressman Ed Case at the Hawaii Democratic Party breakfast last month. Case once wrote an admiring blurb for Green’s novel. Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat/2022

“It’s a quirk, but it also tells the center whether or not this best friend Boy has actually exists,” he explained. “That’s sort of one of the driving themes of the novel.”

Green began writing the novel by hand in a leather-bound journal between 1997 and 2000, while in medical residency in Pittsburgh. He says he wasn’t necessarily trying to be a famous author.

“I just like the idea of ​​being creative,” he said. “I personally enjoyed the book because it’s really an outlet for my own kind of internal fantasy world. And because I was kind of in two pretty serious disciplines in medicine and politics, it was definitely a outlet for me.

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Among the apparent fans is US Representative Ed Case, who penned an admiring text on the back cover: a unique reminder of the lessons of eternal life and the absolute power of the fully liberated and creative mind.

Green, you may have heard, is running for governor. In fairness, I promise to review any work of fiction by his Republican opponent, Duke Aiona. (Alas, his campaign biography makes no mention of such work.)

The LG is already thinking of a second book, this one non-fiction, although he will have to wait, if he is elected governor.

“I take very good notes of the experiences, and I think we’ve had some really intense experiences in Hawaii over the past few years, including the measles outbreak in Samoa and Covid and this election,” he said. “And I actually think the next book might be a lot more interesting to people than my fantastical ramblings as a youngster.”