A friend recommended Jerzy Kosinski to me, so I thought I'd start with a fairly familiar title, though I have yet to see the movie. "Being There" is quite short, though the story is by no means short on style and quality. Kosinski offers a powerful, unlikely hero in Chance, whose simple philosophies on tending a garden are misinterpreted by people around them as guidance for controlling the national economy. It is amusing to read how all these well-educated, self-important people twist Chance's words to suit their own purposes and beliefs, so much that this simple-minded gardener is, in the course of a few days, one of the most admired men in the nation!
I also like Kosinski's take on the media, as presented through Chance's love for television -- he accepts a name change to Chauncey Gardiner (as accidentally heard by EE Rand), thinking that is standard for people on television to do. The scene in particular where Chance is invited on a program to speak is fun to read, as Chance wonders how he will translate physically onscreen. Though this book was written twenty years ago, it still speaks to us today as a good satire on media and American culture, and how we tend to make heroes of people who do not necessarily fit the mold. It would have been interesting to see this work translated today, with the advent of cable television and the Internet.