The Dave Store Massacre by Ron Ebest
Academy Chicago Publishers
First, let’s replace The Dave Store with Wal Mart, the small-business-choking, below-living-wage providing discount mega-store marring the American landscape. This corporate Galactus has led to the decay and death of small-town Jackson, Mississippi. As quality local businesses fold, steadily The Dave Store becomes the only job in town. With a business model focused on cheap production, cheap labor, The Dave Store profits on the labors of the working poor.
Because this message is so pervasive, because this story has been told repeatedly, I had to ask: what is the story? Really, this book is not just about the scourge that is Wal Mart (scourge that it is). Rather, this novel outlines another decay: the disease that destroys marriage. This disease is Contempt.
As the tensions from a labor walk-out rise, the histories of three marriages are revealed: those of the town mayor, the sheriff and The Dave Store manager. The direction of contempt is the same in each marriage; each wife shares a deeply seeded distain for her husband. Each wife considers her husband a loser. Each wife knew exactly what she was marrying: one an alcoholic in the making, another a pot-smoker with a less than desireable income, the last a bean counting wimp.
These wives hint at a peculiar tension in American marriage: the demand of women to be not only equal, but superior, to their spouses while still desiring a head of household figure. The suggestion is that the men are doomed. Just as the only solution to the Wal Mart Effect is to never allow a Wal Mart, the only solution to the Contempt disease in marriage is to never be married.