American BeheMouth as a Modern Allegory
“American BeheMouth” is an allegory about bloated government, money printing, and economic bubbles in the guise of an epic fishing tale. On the surface, the story is a personal narrative of a literature student who goes on to raise the world-record largemouth bass. However, even in chapter one, beneath the surface, we see:
- Turmoil in the job market
- Disintegrating families
- Fantasy life of middle America
All of this turmoil happens while the protagonist pursues one fish. There was a time when we pursued fish for food and recreation. Then we became obsessed with genetically growing bigger fish and sprayed chemicals to get more yield.
As a society, we have been going into debt pursuing many meaningless objectives without any results. Some even mortgaged off their homes and lived off their home’s past equity (from before the housing market crash) to go fishing.
In discussing American families, the author shows how materialism and changing values are pulling couples apart, leading to single parent households. Men’s egos, a problem in competitive sports, even fishing, are a core reason families are breaking up.
On an individual level, the protagonist goes into debt supporting his vain goal of raising the world-record largemouth bass. On an allegorical level, Jay resembles the Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, with fish brooding raceways where he circulates and produces more baitfish, like a money printing station designed to feed the behemouth (bloated government).
In the end, when it all comes crashing down and the bubbles burst, the protagonist is still clueless, dumping more time and money into the lake instead of ending the spending.
The pattern is the same with Uncle Sam, spending even more money following a recession ($5 trillion deficit in one year). The voice of financial reason, Jay’s wife Lauren, is ignored. (The same is true with the voices of Americans who call for less spending and smaller government.)
Instead of listening to his wife, Jay turns to his fish, like another woman, and names her “Elise,” meaning “My God, my vow.” This shows idolatry to his own vain pursuits and how America is bowing down to big government and the almighty dollar.
New Book Portrays Problems in American Society via Fishing Metaphor
“American BeheMouth” tells the story of a fisheries hobbyist who raises and catches the world-record bigmouth bass in the “Area 51 of Bass Fishing,” a secret 70-acre lake.
The protagonist’s short cuts in fisheries science prevent him from certifying the record fish with the International Game Fish Association. He allows his obsession to endanger his relationships and put him in debt.
It soon becomes clear that the author, Jason Covington, is really talking about the pursuit of the American dream and turmoil in Washington, Wall Street, and Main Street. The protagonist’s moral lapse is reminiscent of sports heroes and politicians we all know. He uses his credit card to finance the dream, hand feeding his behemouth thousands of bait fish. He also sprays chemicals on the lake to increase the baitfish size. The reader can only think of the similarities to our bloated government and the Fed with its money printing, quantitative easing, and $15 trillion deficit.
Other themes in the book include achieving great accomplishments while staying balanced, marriage and the complexities of modern American families, along with many ethical dilemmas, including allusions to economic troubles in American society.