“Mike Palecek writes with passion, wit, and always with a strong social conscience.”
— Howard Zinn
“Terse and funny and dry as a dead Iowa corn snake baking in the sun. Palecek delivers a quick, deadpan slap to reactionary, mindless post-9/11 America. The sting is delightful.”
— Mark Morford, San Francisco Chronicle
“I’ve read JFK assassination fiction by Don Delillo and Norman Mailer, and can tell you that this new novel (Johnny Moon) not only is Mike’s best book yet, it’s much better than Delillo’s and Mailer’s efforts to do justice to the most important event in US history.”
— Dr. Kevin Barrett
Mike Palecek reminds me of Socrates the gadfly who asked unwelcome questions, Diogenes with his lantern looking in vain for an honest man, Chekhov the man with the hammer challenging the complacent family to share their meal, Kerouac the ever on the move, somewhat hysterical searcher, and he reminds me of many Americans who as children were so blasted with propaganda that they’re devoting the rest of their lives to challenging the lies and all who tell them. In this land where babies are brought by storks and buildings collapse due to unpatriotic bricks, we need the gadfly because no leader, preacher, guru, or saint will wake us up, though the Doomsday clock is ticking close to twelve.
— David Ray, American Poet
author of “The Endless Search”
Critical Acclaim for Speak English
Mike Palecek’s writing is always a pleasure to sneak off to a quiet place and devour . . . Deceivingly simple sentences that are easy on the eyes, yet deep, powerful & enduring on the brain . . . haunting “fictional” truths . . .
— Betsy Metz is an Independent 9/11 Truth Activist
There is more truth in Mike Palecek’s books than anyone can find in The New York Times.
— Jim Fetzer is an American philosopher and professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth
Mike Palecek has been a consistently good writer about the real America, not the one we pretend we live in.
— Meria Heller produces and hosts The Meria Show
Mike Palecek takes us on a cultural journey into the hyper-realities of an excited delirium of knowinglessness.
— Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and former director of Project Censored
The paranormal meets a rite-of-passage tale in plain, American English, and the Alien Question is answered — or is it? Inside-out, 21st century conspiracy theory gets right in your face — I love it!
— Lisa B. Falour is the Pushcart Prize nominee author of I WAS
Mike Palecek can take the worst events that happen (terrorist planes crashing on purpose into the Twin Towers on 9/11) and make them hilarious. Well, not the event, but our reaction to it. This book is the scariest yet, we are being invaded by aliens. Again, it is our reaction to the invasion that catches Mike’s eye. He’ll make you laugh a little and then think about how to be a better human being tomorrow. Thanks Mike.
— Jeanne Norris heads the Franklin County chapter of Grandmothers For Peace in New York
Periodically, a new novel by Mike Palecek explodes out of the heartland. Without fail, Palecek’s writing is gripping, entertaining, artful and powerfully expresses the crying need for social justice in a broken world. His brand new book is Speak English and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
— Ray Korona is an activist musician and songwriter
When one begins cranking, Speak English plays a back-country tune of rednecks and ETs. And then — surprise! — the lid pops open, and a Jack-in-the-box springs out, sounding very like Mike Palecek, on the road, singing other songs, a voice pleading obvious truths in a culture designed to annihilate them. But when the lid clicks down again, we find that our Mike-in-the-box — alas! — is also an alien doing a thorough tour of humanity.
Hmmm. Problematic. What does that make those of us who identify with him and his perspective? Are we aliens too, extra-terrestrials on this version of the earth? That would explain a lot of things
— Marc Estrin is the author of Insect Dreams, The Education of Arnold Hitler, Golem Songs, The Good Doctor Guillotine, and more
In Speak English, readers will find their favorite Michael Palecek themes (Truth, Justice and Xenophobia) in one of his most successful blends of social critique, humor, outrage and poignancy.
In Palecek’s work, the hypocrisy of the powers that be — corporate-controlled government, capitalism, institutionalized religion, mainstream consumer culture — is juxtaposed with favorite urban legends. Certainly, government lies are no stranger than, say, Bigfoot, or in this case, Aliens.
In roughly three sections, the first successfully and most entertainingly captures the voice of the clueless Midwestern dude who accidentally provides some flashes of bitingly ironic insight. The second and largest section moves to the author’s diary of his actual travels across the United States (Canada refused him entry due to his having been arrested for civil disobedience) as part of a book tour. The real people he meets on this travels — peace and social justice activists, owners of independent bookstores, community builders — offer a counterpoint to the bigoted folks elsewhere in the book. The final portion returns to the original story, but with the narrator in a little more reflective mood.
Michael Palecek is becoming a favorite on the “alt-publishing” circuit. This books is a “must read” for Palecek fans, and a great introduction for those who haven’t yet discovered him.
— Holly Hart, chairs the Iowa Green Party
American culture is not safe. Mike Palecek is amongst us again. You will never look at space aliens, Schlitz beer, old Chevys, hunting, hippies, 9-11, or the sheer insanity of the military/corporate complex the same again. Speak English is a wild ride of hilarity and brilliant social commentary.
A must read if there ever was one. Bravo!
— Doug DraIme, poet, is author of Slaves of the Harvest, Unoccupied Zone, and Madmen
With Speak English, Mike Palecek takes us on a journey across a strange but disturbingly familiar American landscape, populated by the people we encounter everyday but never consider twice, and the aliens whose lives we never imagine.
— Chris Cook is a contributing editor to Pacific Free Press and plays host at Gorilla Radio
Centuries ago, before we humans got too damn smart for our own good, a person willing to rise above the herd mentality and focus on the big picture was often labeled a prophet. Unfortunately for Mike Palecek, he’s stuck in the age of attention deficit, fiscal quarters, and instant messaging. I’m just saying.
— Mickey Z. is a writer and activist
Mike Palecek’s latest is weird, funny and totally serious all at the same time. From a mysterious shooting at the beginning to a tour through the U.S. touching on everything from George Bush’s involvement with 9-11 and the plot to kill JFK, you won’t be able to put Speak English down.
— Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus for The Capital Times, Madison , Wisconsin
I have just visited Mason City, Iowa. Not really. But is there any more authenticity than the midwest through the words of Michael Palecek? America for that matter. Michael Palecek’s new novel, Speak English, is a pointblank, right on, hit over the head reminder of the Truth about the United States Government and all through the eyes of a passionate, shy, beer drinking alien. If you are truly concerned about what is going on in this country you are probably an alien too and should definitely read Speak English.
— Nora Nickerson is a Tucson poet and peace activist who is really an alien from Planet N
Palecek takes us on a fast ride through the heartland, downshifting only to signal the curves of the hypocracy of present day U.S. empire. He nails the culture as accurately as he does the throttle. This road trip should raise the hairs on your head and perhaps arouse you from the slumber of high fructose brain fade. Palecek isn’t afraid to point out that there are many roads with bad signage, some from sheer neglect, others by cynical intent. Your job is to sort out the right fork to take; the road to truth.
— Jim Lynch is a, radio host and professional photographer
I know Mike from his politics in which he exhibits passion, great intelligence (mostly because I agree with him) and a profound sensitivity and understanding of the workings of the world these days.
I had no idea that he was such a masterful and brilliant writer/storyteller. Since I have retired from talk radio, I read a great deal, both fiction and the other stuff. I did not know what to expect when I began reading Mike’s Speak English which he had kindly sent me a week ago.
I was hooked after four pages and mesmerized by the 12th. His story, his characters, his understated but poignant allegory kept me reading for hours. I could get specific and cite passages and the like, but I won’t. It would be a spoiler. Speak English is at once a political heartbreaker and a profound tone poem.
It made me angry, empathetic and wiser for reading it.
Thanks, Mike. Good job.
— Bob Witkowski
An excellent read…as usual. I was at first put off/confused by the change to your tour narrative in the middle, but it flowed on as you brought it all together. I do like your style. Almost extemporaneous. It reminds me of a story I read long ago of how it took two years to write A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which is apparently long for a screenplay, but it shows in that the entertainment itself flows so smoothly that you miss it as it ends.
— Dan M. Nalven
This book is an amazing blend told with great style of country boy tale-spinning, a road trip across America, conspiracy theories, political manifesto, aliens and flying saucers, and unsparing self-examination. Fascinating from beginning to end as the author tells his story with poetry, humor and wisdom, it is a must-read for all concerned with disappearing democratic values in the U.S. and its catastrophic wars. Read this original, thought-provoking and entertaining book, and learn the truth!
— Joan Wile is author of Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace
Mike Palecek is one of this country’s best kept secrets. In addition to his heroic activism over the years, Mr. Palecek is a highly talented and accomplished writer whose previous novels I devoured in a single sitting. He’s struck gold again with Speak English, a book that demands your undivided attention. Dig in!
— Jason Leopold, investigative journalist, is author of the Los Angeles Times besteller, News Junkie
Mike Palecek is a truly unique, inventive, outrageous, resourceful, funny and exciting writer. We need more like him….and more books like these!!
— Harvey Wasserman is author of SOLARTOPIA and HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES
Evocative writing. Unpredictable tales. A hard political edge. Those are the essential ingredients of Mike Palecek’s writing. They’re all here in Speak English, his best work so far.
— Tony Sutton is editor & publisher of ColdType.net and the ColdType Reader
Mike Palecek’s writing sounds like madness; as complete sanity always does in these insane times. In Speak English he once again takes us for a wild ride through a world that’s twisted and surreal just enough to be able to speak the simple truth about life inside the sociopathic killing machine we call the Good Ol’ U.S. of eff-in’ A.
— Marc Beaudin is author of The Moon Cracks Open: A Field Guide to the Birds and Other Poems, editor of Jihad Bil Qalam: To Strive by Means of the Pen, and poetry editor of CounterPunch
Speak English poetically weaves together our most urgent, taboo and complex social issues with simplicity, sensitivity and surprising accessibility. Mike brilliantly uses eloquence in the face of tragedy and humor amid horror to bring us a quick-witted and telling tale of depth and connection through the power of the human and not-so-human spirit!
— Ava Bird is a poet in Berkeley
If there was a man, one man in a boat and he was gifted, this man, would you share his vision, partake of his hard-earned wisdom if he offered it? He has eyes to see beneath the fishes, separate schools and cloud-rush masses.
This book is the log from his paddle boat, its record a delicate balance of vision and experience, courage and fear, madcap hilarity and frightening actuality, near-misses and direct hits.
Hey Mike, I appreciate the opportunity to review this piece. It, you, are a literal pain in the neck. I never read much on the computer screen, too much strain on the ol’ eyes, makes my neck and shoulders hurt. I usually print my own stuff off to proofread and edit.
My intention when you sent this was to quick-scan these three hundred or so pages, jot down a blurb and send it to you. I ran into a problem, once begun I couldn’t put it down. Now that I’ve finished it, word for word and page for page, I can’t wait to buy a copy to keep me company.
I wanna read it again and again. You got a helluva voice and Speak English is a helluva book. Buy it, people. Pick it up and try to put it down before you finish reading it. Good luck with that.
I am radical when it comes to authors. After fifty years of reading and writing, there are a handful of them who go down to that deep place, dare to piss me off and lift me up, force me out of my personal box and incite me to think. I’ve put them on notice to make room for one more. I finished Speak English; now I gotta go read all your stuff.
— Tom [WordWulf] Sterner, has been extensively published in independent literary magazines and on the Internet. These include Howling Dog Press/Omega, Skyline Literary Review and Flashquake. He is winner of the Marija Cerjak Award for Avant-Garde/Experimental Writing and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2006 and 2008.
The Truth travels.
— Roy Stokes
Mike Palecek’s Speak English is a book like I like to read.
Crackers and aliens. The crackers are from Iowa. In the American heartland.
I don’t think about my troubles for awhile, or the shape the country is in, or things I don’t know about, like who caused 9-11, or who killed Senator Wellstone, or was the election — were two elections — really stolen?
Aliens wouldn’t be any stranger than the last eight years. In fact, they explain a lot.
— Jack Saunders is author of Bukowski Never Did This
Speak English will take you to places you need to go, introduce you to people you need to meet, and invite you to ask questions that perhaps need to be asked.
Bookended between thick, meaty slabs of Mike Palecek’s signature staccato, thoughtful and sometimes profane storytelling, the heart of the book traces the author’s own bookselling tour from small town Iowa to sophisticated New York. Palecek’s theories, including laying responsibility for 9/11 at the gleaming wing-tips of George W. Bush, often play to an unwilling audience, but gift the reader with the best favor an author can give — the urge to think for yourself. Along the way, amid gun-toting teenagers soaked in Clearasil, quart bottles of Schlitz, car windows that refuse to roll down, and the lyrics of Bob Seger or Arlo Gurthrie ringing in one’s ears, you may just get the most real taste of the real America on the bookshelf today. As Palecek quotes Steve Earle mid-journey: “The revolution starts now…”
— Dana Larsen is editor of the Storm Lake Pilot-Tribune
I like Mike, Palecek that is. Why? Because he is a fount of ideas and language, stories, books, websites and provocative commentary intended to ruffle feathers and get us thinking not only about what’s wrong — but about what’s possible. It is a treat to read his work.
— Danny Schecter is the News Dissector for MediaChannel.Org