Truer words have never been spoken.
Air Force Gator was a tour de force, a seamless blend of high-adrenaline drama and thoughtful social critique. I don't doubt it will be the first of many masterpieces by nascent literary savant Dan Ryckert.
The protagonist is a young anthropomorphic alligator with dependency issues and a checkered past. Though the events of 9/11 drive him to shake off his decade-long drunk and climb back into the familiar role of world-renowned war hero, he spends his nights alligator-wrestling with the agony of growing up in his grandfather's shadow, and a wracking, pervasive shame about his tiny little arms. Air Force Gator is among the most relatable characters I've ever read — who among us hasn't languished in the difficulty of living up to familial expectations? Or lay awake long into the night, staring at the ceiling tiles and wondering what people say about our stubby, ineffective arms?
Gustav, the racist crocodile, launches a Jokeresque plot to aggrandize all reptilekind with an inhalant steroid/evolution chemical known colloquially as "GatorAid". Though Ryckert's definition of evolution may leave something to be desired, the implication is masterfully subtle: Gustav wants to melt all humans, while enlarging the braincases and lengthening the limbs of crocodiles and alligators, allowing them to use human speech and operate within the paradigm of human society. Gustav sought to turn the very creatures he loved into what he hated most, in a misguided attempt to free them.
Air Force Gator is the most important novel of our generation. When Gator met the president, and at long last, he was able to salute without shame? No lie, friends, I saluted with him. I burned with the same fierce pride.
And I am not ashamed to admit that I wept, like a colicky baby.
eBook Air Force Gator