Trump puts lead in pencils
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.]