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Semifinalist, James Branch Cabell First Novelist Award
Finalist, Midwest Book Awards
On April 19th, 1995, a truck bomb explodes in front of Oklahoma City’s Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people in the ensuing wreckage and devastation. Within a matter of hours, the FBI launches the largest manhunt in US history, identifying the suspects as Timothy James McVeigh, a Desert Storm veteran and weapons aficionado, and John Doe No. 2, a stocky twentysomething with a telltale tattoo on his upper left arm. Eventually, the FBI retracts the elusive mystery man as a bombing suspect altogether, proclaiming that McVeigh had acted alone and that John Doe No. 2 was the byproduct of unreliable eyewitness testimony in the wake of the attack.
This is his story.
With his peculiar ironic vision, “JD” narrates his secret life with McVeigh among America’s militia culture, as well as their hair-raising entanglements with undercover federal agents. Along the way, the duo quenches their thirst for adventure by buzzing the security forces at Nevada’s notorious Area 51 and slipping into the ruins of the Branch Davidians’ Mount Carmel Center in Waco.
John Doe No. 2 and the Dreamland Motel is the tragicomic account of McVeigh’s last, desperate months of freedom, with JD traveling as the bomber’s sidekick from one gun show to another, crisscrossing the country in McVeigh’s beloved Chevy Geo Spectrum, and preparing to unleash one of the deadliest acts of terrorism in the nation’s history.
“A bold attempt to inhabit the mind of an individual whose very existence remains in dispute, and in doing so Kenneth Womack makes this phantom figure seem remarkably real. This is the power of good fiction, of course, and Womack pulls it off spectacularly.”—Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire
“An engaging read. Addresses issues of domestic terrorism that are still significant today in the national debate. Womack’s novel leaves us with the poignantly uneasy reminder that it is not that hard to become a fallen Quaker—or a fallen war hero.”—Ray Petersen, author of Cowkind and editor of Drummed Out
“John Doe No. 2 and the Dreamland Motel is a funny and frightening story, an uncomfortable, guilty pleasure that is imaginatively allusive. There are so many cultural allusions—to computer games, news events, books, rock music, celebrities—that reading the book is a kind of trivial pursuit in itself.”—Jim Gorman, author of Will Work for Food