In new novel by Greensboro writer Lee Zacharias, idealism grows up

The popularity of QAnon conspiracy theories continues to astound pundits.

But consider this: In the 1960s into the 1980s, perhaps thousands of smart, college-educated Americans sincerely believed the country was on the verge of a violent, Russian-style revolution. If only enough bombs went off in enough public buildings, the U.S. government and capitalism itself would collapse like a house of cards.

Things turned out a little differently.

Greensboro novelist Lee Zacharias (“At Random,” “Across the Great Lake”) recalls these tense times in “What a Wonderful World This Could Be,” a tale of youthful idealism colliding with age and experience.

"What a Wonderful World This Could Be" is the new novel from Greensboro writer Lee Zacharias. It's about, among other things, '60s radicalism and the lost art of pre-digital photography.

Zacharias’ protagonist is Alex, an art photographer who teaches at a small Virginia college. (Only her mother called her “Alexandra.”)  In early 1982, she’s 36 and hasn’t seen her husband for 11 years.

But then he shows up: Ted Neal, antiwar activist and bombing suspect, is about to surrender himself to federal authorities in Washington. Then, the mother of a man who went MIA in Vietnam shoots him in the head.