Ivy vs. Dogg: With a Cast of Thou­sands!

Brian Le­ung

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - NANCY POW­ELL

C & R Press (MAY) Soft­cover $19 (275pp) 978-1-936196-63-0

Brian Le­ung’s Ivy vs. Dogg de­liv­ers a sting­ing com­men­tary of how unchecked voyeurism has im­pacted mod­ern pol­i­tics, mak­ing it a politi­cian’s busi­ness to get into every­body’s busi­ness.

This Elec­tion for the in­ter­net age is a heady, wicked satire of sub­ur­ban pol­i­tics. A de­ter­mined un­der­dog chal­lenges a golden boy for the ul­ti­mate prize, spark­ing twisted bat­tles be­tween the sexes and of young ver­sus old.

High school ten­nis star Jimmy “Dogg” Dog­gins and plain-jane Ivy Sim­mons are child­hood friends turned ri­vals, com­pet­ing for the ti­tle of Mudlick’s Ju­nior Mr. Mayor. Ivy is preg­nant, and the Com­mit­tee, Mudlick’s nosy gov­ern­ing body, hopes to ex­ploit Ivy’s con­di­tion to ma­nip­u­late the elec­tion in Dogg’s fa­vor.

The Com­mit­tee ap­peals to its con­ser­va­tive con­stituency and a life­like top­i­ary girl for moral guid­ance. Just when the de­sired out­come seems as­sured, havoc erupts and tears the Com­mit­tee’s well-laid plans asun­der.

Le­ung’s sharp, witty di­a­logue ex­ploits his con­nec­tion to and un­der­stand­ing of the un­der­ly­ing foun­da­tions of po­lit­i­cal and pop cul­ture to max­i­mum ef­fect. He mocks the Com­mit­tee’s push to main­tain the sta­tus quo while also show­ing how its own au­thor­ity is un­der­mined by its dog­matic ad­her­ence to strict so­cial edicts and ig­no­rance of chang­ing cul­ture. Com­mit­tee sound bites ring hol­low when com­pared to the is­sues pre­sented by the town’s marginal­ized out­siders.

Ivy and Dogg turn the stereotypes of es­tab­lished high school tropes—the pop­u­lar kid and the kid from the wrong side of the tracks, the ath­lete and the nerd—in­side out. De­spite their al­lot­ted sta­tions in life, they yearn for re­demp­tion and fresh starts. Ivy and Dogg teach the adults the value of de­cency in an at­mos­phere of fiery and de­struc­tive rhetoric, and in the process be­come the adults while their adult han­dlers act like spoiled chil­dren.

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