Trump puts lead in pen­cils

The Times (South Africa) - - HOROSCOPES & FOOD - Sa­mar­i­tans, THE IS­SUE THE BOT­TOM LINE Pussy To Kill the Pres­i­dent Hue 1968: A Turn­ing Point of the Amer­i­can War in Viet­nam Wit­ness to the Rev­o­lu­tion: Rad­i­cals, Re­sisters, Vets, Hip­pies, and the Year Amer­ica Lost Its Mind and Found its Soul The Sum­mer of

HE’S been a boon to fic­tion, par­tic­u­larly satire, has the US pres­i­dent. One of the first ti­tles Don­ald Trump in­spired was Howard Ja­cob­son’s fu­ri­ous novella, (Jonathan Cape), about the dimwit­ted, boast­ful Prince Fra­cas­sus, heir to a golden-gated em­pire of sky­scrapers and casi­nos who passes his time watch­ing re­al­ity TV shows, dream­ing of pros­ti­tutes and fan­ta­sis­ing he is the Em­peror Nero.

Less Swif­tian, but no less out­ra­geous is Jonathan Lynn’s hi­lar­i­ous which comes just as the Mar­malade Mus­solini sets about de­priv­ing about 27 mil­lion Amer­i­cans of af­ford­able health care. A star car­dio-tho­racic sur­geon’s cushy life is up­ended when a Las Ve­gas casino man­ager is em­ployed to run a Wash­ing­ton hospi­tal whose board chair­man is a bil­lion­aire arms dealer. George Or­well would have ap­proved.

In­ter­est­ingly, Trump may also have breathed fresh life into the thriller genre, if Sam Bourne’s en­gag­ing and daz­zling (HarperCollins) is any in­di­ca­tion. In it, a young in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tive, Mag­gie Costello, dis­cov­ers a plot to as­sas­si­nate the new US pres­i­dent who, though un­named, is clearly based on Trump. Costello faces the ul­ti­mate moral dilemma.

Should she save his life? Or al­low him to die? He, af­ter all, is in a state of rage and about to launch a nu­clear strike on North Korea in re­sponse to their mock­ery about the size of his pe­nis. (Fake fic­tion? We hope so.)

In­ter­est­ingly, all of the au­thors above are Bri­tish. In the clos­ing com­ments of his vivid and metic­u­lously re­searched

(At­lantic Monthly Press), Mark Bow­den sug­gests that, “for a jour­nal­ist in­ter­ested in his­tory, the sweet spot is about 50 years”; enough time has passed for a more ob­jec­tive per­spec­tive, and wit­nesses to events are still alive. A bar­rage of Viet­nam war his­to­ries and mem­oirs are thus ex­pected as we move closer to the 50th an­niver­sary of the Tet Of­fen­sive.

But what of events on the home front? There are sev­eral new ti­tles, like Clara Bing­ham’s mam­moth

(Ran­dom House) and Jill D’Alessan­dro and Colleen Terry’s

(Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Press), that take us back to the myth­i­cal, flower-pow­ered sum­mer of 1967.

But the one the crit­ics are go­ing for is Danny Gold­berg’s (Icon Books), which, they sug­gest is the ideal in­tro­duc­tion to the coun­ter­cul­tural forces at large in that mo­men­tous year. From the Pan­thers to the psy­che­delic gu­rus, rock stars and rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies, the hope­ful and deluded, it’s all here, man. “I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made my­self big, my body would be safe.” —

(HarperCollins). [At her “big­gest”, in her late 20s, the 1.9m tall Gay weighed al­most 268kg.]

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