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A Superhero For A Self-Absorbed Society

Book Tour is a Web feature and podcast. Each week, we present leading authors of fiction and nonfiction as they read from and discuss their work.

Captain Freedom is a superhero with his own personal Segway, a villainess girlfriend, an uncanny ability to predict the weather and a sidekick named DJ who uses the slow rock tunes of FM radio to put people to sleep. Cut loose by the upper management of Gotham Comix, Captain Freedom is at a crossroads. He must find a new identity and a new purpose in life. So he does what any self-respecting celebrity superhero would do: hires a life coach and starts searching for his roots.

So begins Captain Freedom: A Superhero's Quest for Truth Justice and the Celebrity He So Richly Deserves. This skewed superhero is the creation of writer and satirist G. Xavier Robillard, who is also the comic genius behind the award-winning Web site All Day Coffee and a regular contributor to McSweeney's and Comedy Central.

A native of Long Island, Robillard is a long-suffering Mets fan, a musician and a software expert with a keen sense of the absurd and an abiding love for a good acronym: the Criminal Abatement Preparatory Exam or C.A.P.E., to name just one.

Robillard says he owes a debt of gratitude to Arnold Schwarzenegger, action-hero-turned-governor, who was something of an inspiration for the first version of Captain Freedom. Robillard later turned his hero's story into a short humor piece for his local public radio station in Oregon. And from there, it grew into the novel, an outrageous satire of our celebrity-obsessed pop culture. Writer Christopher Moore calls it "a terrific send up not only of superheroes, but the cult of personality in general."

This reading of Captain America took place on Feb. 23, 2009 at the McNally Jackson bookstore in New York.

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Lynn Neary
Lynn Neary is an NPR arts correspondent covering books and publishing.