When Ishmael Reed wrote The Terrible Twos about the American infantile need for instant gratification, he could not have realized that during the week of June 29, 2020, journalist Nicole Wallace would be referring to a president as a "toddler. "
Part science fiction, part Washington Novel and part Christmas Novel, The Terrible Fours follows The Terrible Twos (1982) and The Terrible Threes (1989). Some characters have been dropped and some of the principals are back. St. Nicholas is here, but his sidekick Black Peter, who appeared in The Terrible Twos, has been shelved to the Epilog. In The Terrible Threes, former president Dean Clift, removed from office after a bizarre television address, disappeared with his entourage while en route to resume his presidency after Supreme Court justice, Nola Payne, casts the vote declaring that his removal from office under the 25th Amendment was unconstitutional. Televangelist Clement-Jones still runs the White House and continues to humiliate his hand-picked president Jesse Hatch whom he is blackmailing.
"The Rapture," that Jones and figurehead president Jesse Hatch promised, hasn't arrived. Realizing that the Catholic Church has been losing adherents in the global north while gaining adherents in the global south, the College of Cardinals has elected a black pope, Miltiades II, named after Miltiades I, the Black African pope. Miltiades II had replaced the cardinal of New York, who was demoted for extravagant living. Boy Bishop and the NIX, a cult that worships oceans, are back.
The citizens of the planet Dido await an invasion from Earth after their earthlike planet has been detected. An alien in the body of a deceased television producer works inside the government and attempts to disrupt the invasion. Termite Control, a follower of Odin, and a necrophiliac, who was dismissed as a political threat in The Terrible Threes , is gaining in the polls. Billionaires and a few trillionaires plan to secretly leave Earth, which is running out of resources, to search for raw materials elsewhere. They aim to reach Dido in privately financed space ships. Virginia Saturday, Nance's ex wife, J. Q., and the fake Rasta who stole Black Peter's identity are back. And more and more and more.
Ishmael Reed is a poet, novelist, essayist, playwright and songwriter. He has won prizes and grants in each category. He is also an illustrator and Jazz pianist. His most recent awards include the Alberto Dubito Award for International Poetry, presented at the Ca'Foscari University in Venice in 2016 and The AUDELCO award for theater presented in 2017. In 2019, he began his 36th year as a professor at The University of California at Berkeley. He also teaches at the California College of the Arts where he is a distinguished professor. His most recent books published by Baraka Books are Why No Confederate Statues in Mexico (2019) and The Complete Muhammad Ali (2015).
&ldquo Mr. Reed is as close as we are likely to get to a Garcia Marquez, elaborating his own mythology even as he trashes ours. &rdquo
&ldquo Ishmael Reed is the Charlie Parker of American fiction. &rdquo Max Roach
&ldquo Reed has an unnerving sense of what will show up on our televisions. He is without a doubt our finest satirist since Twain. &rdquo Book World