Book review: The Weed Agency

Jim Geraghty’s first novel, The Weed Agency, is an engaging and enlightening romp through the halls of the nation’s capitol which will deliver a fun read for everyone from policy wonks to those who have little to no interest in government affairs. The storyline (Spoiler Alert!) actually has nothing to do with marijuana, though that particular weed does make a few appearances. Instead, the book takes the reader on a 31 year journey through the birth and trundling growth of a barely fictional branch of the United States Department of Agriculture – the Agency of Invasive Species (AIS) – and the lives of those invested in its perpetual growth, as well as those seeking its downfall.

That one sentence could imply for some that this is a government policy tome disguised as a novel, but that’s far from the case. Geraghty brings his characters to life in a way which quickly draws the reader into their struggles, moments of success and many failures. The story is told in an almost mockumentary fashion, skipping back and forth across the timeline of the agency’s history while carefully chronicling the national debt – as well as the metastasizing budget of the Weed Agency – in tandem with the storyline. At the center of the plot are two characters – one a cynical, career bureaucrat and the other a Reagan era cost cutting warrior – locked in a decades long battle.The details of this evolution are filled with so many alternating hilarious and maddening events that the reader eventually begins to wonder how the AIS isn’t already a real agency. You may come to love or hate some of the players in this comic tragedy, but you’ll welcome them into your life for a time.

One of the more original devices employed by the author which makes this novel work so well is the way that Geraghty weaves so many real life events and Washington power players into the story, seamlessly incorporating the Agency of Invasive Species into the real life history of our nation which we all recall. Without giving too much of the plot away, I will share the fact that I laughed loud and long when Al Gore made a brief appearance. On a related note, I do hope that someone puts a copy of this book into Newt Gingrich’s hands, if only to see his reaction to how he is portrayed in the tale.

Geraghty’s writing is full of more quotable moments than could be put in one review, but there is a particular one I’ll share just to convey the flavor of the work. They cynical head of the agency, speaking to his protege in a moment of brutal honesty, describes the level of effort required to work in such a government body.

“You notice no one ever says, ‘close enough for private sector work.‘”

The Weed Agency is available for pre-order through Amazon and as of this writing is ranked at #11 in Books > Humor & Entertainment > Humor > Political. It will be available for general sale on June 3, 2014.