It was inevitable that we would turn the colonial mentality on ourselves.
No matter what we think we are achieving, eventually, imperial wars come home to roost. A generation of men asked to watch children suffer without flinching return to America. The ethics of the wars of Pax Americana become the ways and mores in our own streets. The logic of the war in Afghanistan is transferred to the classrooms of Chicago’s public high schools. America is reborn in a shape we never intended.
A series of short stories and vignettes walk the reader through the consequences of two decades of war, and the attitudes it creates. An eighteen year old realizes his mortality and is punished for it by his peers; a soldier returns from the wars only to realize he’s teaching the colonized in his own city; a young couple goes to Central America and sees the effects of the West on class and opportunity; members of a platoon hunt to find a traitorous Afghan spy; and a man spends his days adhering to a strict and ridiculous routine to ward off the bad magic that is always around the corner. Lyke’s setting shifts in time and place but forever casts the main character of The Chicago East India Company as someone trying to maintain his sanity, his humanity, and his kindness as the state and its bureaucratic machinations unknowingly try to take them away.
In the tradition of Camus, Orwell or Steinbeck, Lyke’s work illuminates human nature, and seeks the truth hidden under layers of grit.
Find The Chicago East India Company available here.
Lyke’s stories pull together as a scathing indictment of outdated American ideals. In the spirit of willful surrender à la Orwell’s Gordon Comstock, Lyke’s aging narrator plods down beaten Chicago school hallways, relives the horrors he experienced in Afghanistan, and pines for the lost joys of his Ohio adolescence. A fearlessly personal, disquietingly honest, and subtly hilarious look at a chewed up and spat out man. – David Hoenigman (Author of Burn Your Belongings, Squeal For Joy, and Man Sees Demon)