Return of the Didactic Novel

Just as one thought that lewdness, licence and let-it-all-hang-out had saturated contemporary literature forever, that morals and upright thinking had no place in fiction, along came Rebekah Roth.

I admit, I was mean, calling her first two novels ‘penny dreadfuls’, though I did acknowledge her uniquely valuable perspective as a professional flight attendant and her use of careful research on aspects of 9/11.  Her third novel in the series, Methodical Conclusion, establishes her as a contemporary and interesting didactic novelist.

Didactic writing is instructive.  It relies on fictional techniques to frame the all-consuming message in the text.  This can weigh heavily, be off-putting and therefore ineffective, though there have been remarkable contemporary successes.  Alex Haley’s Roots, for instance, contributed greatly to the social status of Afro-American people and spearheaded a renewed ‘back to Africa’ movement.

Rebekah Roth’s three novels, Methodical IllusionMethodical Deception and Methodical Conclusion were written out of a very strong desire to convey the work of many years of academic research on aspects of 9/11 to a new audience.  The first two novels were framed by a soppy and unrealistic romance; the third begins as a panegyric on a contemporary hotel and holiday, not to my taste either; but this novel moves swiftly to the serious and lengthy research attempted, never neglecting political implications and practical difficulties for an administration determined to uncover truths.   One suffers the unrealistic ‘clunky’ dialogue and stylistic gaffes; but the moral, patriotic and right-thinking monologues are sincere and well argued.

There are many researchers who will find the genre and style of the Methodicals tedious; but the books are achieving the readership that the writer sets out to capture.  No publisher could ask for more.