Author: Brian Joseph Davis
America lies in ruins during an age of decline, despair, and death. The year is 1975 and a radical far-left
group has kidnapped a young woman from one of America's richest families. Using the memoir format
just enough to spin off into a crazed, bawdy, and seditious charge through pop culture and politics, this is
a highly fictionalized true story of the rise and fall of the Symbianese Liberation Army, as it never
IntroductionI am still alive.
I live in Simi Valley, in a house that could look quite like yours, but the ornate Moorish fence is electrified.
Patrolling the grounds are Anatolian and Karabash Shepherd dogs. The door is steel with several vertical
deadbolt locks set in a mesh and cement frame.The bay windows are double-paned Secureglass,
designed to withstand everything from 9mm to military grade shells. If the residents’ association hadn’t
voted down the moat of blood, there would be one here. It’s not that I don’t feel safe; it’s for your
From me. You see, this is a prison for one.
I am Tania, acting General Field Commander of the
Symbionese Liberation Army.
Remember my old communiqués from my first assignment,
years ago, posing as a kidnap victim? My troops are dead and for the last few years you have known me
— from the books, the AM talk shows of the blighted, bland and mortgaged—by my cover name, my pig
I’m let out for a daily routine and special events — nights for casing ballrooms at gala fundraisers, valet
escape routes and weapons caches in potted palms.
I have to be careful. After all, I have no idea if my yoga instructor is equally adept at assassination as he
is the windrelease posture. And will my half-caf soy almond latte one day come with radioactive isotope
shavings on top? That goth barista has Homeland Security written all over her pale face.
Days are spent in fascist pumps and pig lipstick. Smile at golf humour. Hold the highball just so, with an
air of ennui. Like this. To an outsider, I could be your mother with perfect, if slurred, elocution, who robbed
and who was set free.
“Yes, yes, my wild college days. Don’t make me tell that
story again, dears.”
But this is deep cover. A long novel of embossed, die-cut, beach reading. An assignment I chose of my
free revolutionary will. I was not brainwashed to wear Dior grays and Tiffany leg irons. I was not. After the
events of May 17th, 1974, we changed our tactics.We were rich (all of us, why do you think they
recruited me?) and the cities we had wanted to see on fire were abstractions to us. It was a murderous
mistake. We disbanded and returned to where we came from, to burn our own second homes, inherited
New York co-ops, and cottages. Well, we’re planning to, someday.
You see, Mao was wrong. A revolution is a dinner party,
or doing embroidery. It can be so refined, so leisurely and
gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. That May 17th anniversary is
coming up. My
daybook suggests presents of pearl.
I will send a card but I cannot, for security reasons, tell you everything even as I now write the words to
my story (I’m donating my book advance to an organization that helps first time novelists injured by
landmines). After all the other stories, this is Tania’s story, told through code and ellipses. It begins in a
country that I have been the exiled leader of for some time — Symbia. Never heard of it? Let me explain
Brian Joseph Davis
Brian Joseph Davis is an artist and the author of Portable Altamont. His audio art has been acclaimed by
Pitchfork, Salon, and Wired. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.
"Rarely have the rules of narrative been more imaginatively ignored."
"By turns aggressive and hilarious, it's a twisted assault on mass culture where nothing is sacred and
nothing is safe. Blowing things up has never been so much fun."
"In Brian Joseph Davis’ new novel, . . . he does what few have done yet—take the ambiguity of the SLA
and Patricia Hearst’s embracing (and denial) of revolution and open it up with humour. Scatological,
slapstick and Marxist humour at that."
"The writing is Brian Joseph Davis at his madcap best. . . . Davis is an inventive writer, and his irreverent
wit and absurdist tendencies permeate I, Tania. . . . For those looking for something wildly original [this
book] is worth kidnapping."
"Should appeal to fans of 1970s and 80s pop culture and cultural theory, and those who can appreciate a
good Donald Barthelme joke."
"If punk rock was a book, this would be it."
"The sustained radical reading of [The Bad News Bears] is the funniest piece of writing I’ve come across
"An absurdly attractive prose poem that is filled with laughter and lyrical aphorisms."
"An insanely funny first novel . . . innovative and truly bizarre."