A review of

Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die!

by Mark Binelli

Central question: Are anarchists and vaudevillians simply variants on the same theme?
Format: 353 pp., paperback; Size: 8.6" x 5.6"; Price: $14.95; Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press; Editor: John O’Brien; Print run: 8,200; Book design: Clinton Inselmann; Typeface: Garamond; Author’s father, grandfather, uncle, great-uncle, various cousins, were: knife sharpeners; Author’s parents are: Italian émigrés who settled in Detroit; Representative sentence: “Oddly enough, though, a demonstrable tension remains when one watches the best of those old scenes, even today, today, when Sacco and Vanzetti, when their cinematographer, when their directors and lighting-technicians and sound-crew, are all long dead.”

The great American journalist Murray Kempton once wrote, “The case of Sacco and Vanzetti was at once the glory and the tragedy, the triumph and the disaster, of American social protest in this century. No other cause would seem so pure; no other protagonists would glow so much like walking flames. And no other end would come so clean and sharp and so utterly annihilating to the souls of those who cared.” The trauma of the Sacco and Vanzetti case is now dulled, but the execution of the two hapless anarchists has lingered like a wound in the American psyche. Something went terribly wrong with everything. And everybody knew it, even those who pretended not to care.

Mark Binelli’s novel Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die! reimagines the anarchists as a comedy team in the vein of Laurel and Hardy. Sacco is the fat clown (Fat Sacco Shit) and Vanzetti the introspective straight man. They produce a number of films, including Sacco and Vanzetti Dessert the Cause and Ventriloquism and Its Discontents. They perfect a knife-throwing routine they may have stolen from a downstairs neighbor in Italy. They bicker. They nearly kill Bob Hope. And finally, they make the ill-fated Mars Needs Sacco and Vanzetti! in which they end up on death row on Mars, a planet run entirely by women oppressors (although Sacco coaxes a hand job out of a redheaded prison guard).

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—Morgan Meis

Morgan Meis is an editor at 3 Quarks Daily and a founding member of Flux Factory, an arts collective in New York.

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