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Dog Days Hardcover – January 5, 2006

3 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cox came to fame in 2004 as Wonkette, a D.C. insider whose blog injected (and still injects) levity and sarcasm into the earnest national political scene. In her snarky fictive debut, it's August in a presidential election year, and Kerryesque nominee John Hillman has failed to wow the Democratic convention. Worse yet, Hillman is under attack from the Citizens for Clear Heads, who claim that the candidate, as a student, took part in mind-control experiments, and now may be under someone's control. Campaign staffer and heroine Melanie Thorton must divert the media from the Clear Heads story before it destroys what's left of Hillman's appeal; she also hopes to rekindle her affair with a high-powered (but married) reporter. Desperate to distract the press (and herself), Melanie creates Capitolette, whose wholly fictional blog describes paid sexual dalliances with elected officials. (Cox's early blog link to Washingtonienne, whose exploits match Capitolette's exactly, set in motion the chain of events which would reveal Washingtonienne as real Hill staffer Jessica Cutler.) Wanting to keep the Capitolette story going, Melanie and her best friend find a (very) willing D.C. waitress and teach her to play the role of Capitolette—a role she embraces, in bedrooms if not online, as unintended consequences pile up. Cox aims for a light comedy of Washington power, halfway between Primary Colors and Sex and the City. Her powers of plot construction, though, don't match her political savvy: emotions are predictable, plot twists few. Fans of Wonkette's wit will find themselves better served by her blog—unless they want to revisit August 2004 as seen from the Kerry campaign, which few real Washingtonians (and even fewer Democrats) want to do. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

This first novel, by a former writer of the political blog Wonkette, aims at being a satire of Washington mores but comes off as Beltway chick lit. Melanie Thorton, a campaign worker for a Democratic Presidential candidate, is bored with her job, her life, and her affair with a married journalist. She launches a fictitious Internet diary intended to expose the seamier side of Washington life. When the career of the fake blogger, Capitolette, takes off, the deception comes to light. The situation is rooted, slightly, in real life: as Wonkette, Cox created a scandal when she linked to the blog of a Senate staffer who dished about her sexual escapades. But there's something self-defeating about a roman à clef that deals with people who were pseudonymous in the first place. And the plot's many twists just add more bones to the skeleton rather than fleshing it out.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (January 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594489017
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594489013
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,954,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By T. Atkinson on January 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Having read an advance copy slipped to me by a confidential publishing source (in the finest traditions of Wonkette herself), the most prominent emotion this novel evokes is disappointment. Cox is a funny and brilliant writer in the short--her Wonkette blog entries are often laugh-out-loud funny--but she doesn't have the stuff to keep the reader's attention page after page through the long haul of a novel. Her characters are, at times, cartoonishly one-dimensional, and they display exactly the emotions you would expect in each predictable situation. Where is the zing, the zip evident in her blog posts? The dialogue is flat, sit-commy in structure, and flows as evenly and naturally as lumpy chili. I was bored with the story halfway through, and by the end was struggling not to make comparisons between this novel and Primary Colors or that god-awful Michale Keaton/Geena Davis film, Speechless.

The most significant disappointment is that Cox goes to the Washingtonienne well again. Cox's site "broke" the story of Jessica Cutler, who blogged about her trysts with staffers and politicos under the name "Washingtonienne" (and who subsequently milked her sexual adventures into a snore-inducing Playboy spread and an utterly forgettable book by the same name). And here Cox relies on that frankly mediocre political-sexual scandal as a significant plot point. The problem is, it feels like a creative crutch. Okay, write what you know, sure. And, yeah, we know, we know, your site broke the story, such that it was, and yeah, okay, we get it already. But to revisit it again instead of striking into original territory is almost inexcusable for a writer of such promise. What is undeniably inexcusable, however, is to give this lame plot point a this-is-so-crazy-it-just-might-work plot construct (get this! she's only pretending to be Washingtonienne, er, whatever, because Washingtonienne is totally made up, har harr!) worthy of a bad "Silver Spoons" episode.
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Format: Hardcover
I won't repeat what's already been rehashed in previous reviews, but I just had the feeling that Cox didn't take the time to truly develop her characters and plots. The unique slice-of-life details were interesting but certainly not sufficient enough to sustain this work on its own. The plot wraps up too quickly and too unrealistically in many ways, not the least of which is Melanie's sudden attack of moral conflict. The story begins while she is in the middle of an affair with a married man, which suddenly looks like a bad thing only after her lover gets involved with the scandal at hand (not to mention yet another woman).

Another thing that really irritated me was the whole "Democrats - good, Republicans - bad" dichotomy. Themes should be universal. I think even fellow liberals like me can handle a small dash of neutrality in fiction.

Perhpas the nicest thing I could say about Dog Days is that, at 274 pages, it's a quick read...but brevity, in this case, ain't the soul of wit.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fun, fast read - good summer book that isn't formulaic and keeps you interested most of the way. It isn't great literature, but it isn't meant to be. Much tamer than I expected from the irreverent and wickedly funny Cox, but still laugh out loud funny at times. Somewhat far-fetched maybe, but entertaining nonetheless. The Blackberry obsession is spot on and the friendship between the main characters is refreshing. As a recovering alcoholic and Midwestern raised, I remember the last year of astonishingly heavy but functional drinking and working professionally - and knowing it needed to stop - very much like this, so it was realistic and insightful to me. Drags a little toward the end and ends unexpectedly, so something seems missing or much more hurried than tighter development in the beginning - almost as if Cox got bored and wrapped it up just to be done. Wish she'd write another.
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Format: Hardcover
Was expecting something dynamic and subtle - the theme presented a great opportunity, apparently not up to the writer's capabiliities at all. This book is silly and just not worth the read time.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I'm far from a literary critic. I honestly don't pay attention to plot or structure or pace. I just know what I like and what I don't like. And I don't like this book.

Why?

The main reason is that the basic premise of this book seems to be based on the Kerry v Bush presidential election mixed in with the Jessica Culter Washingtonienne story. I mean why do this?! Ana Marie Cox is known for the breaking the Washingtonienne story, it's almost as she pandered to the what she thought the readers wanted.

The rough equivalent would be Conan O'Brien writing a fictional book about how one talk show host got screwed out of hosting a show but another talk show host. It's barely disguised, the writing isn't interesting or funny enough to justify it.

American politics is weird, why not create a scenario completely wacky but plausible, why go with something based on something that not only happened but recently happened so everyone is tired of the story?

The biggest disappointment is how Ana Marie Cox writes her protagonist. At the very least I figured that Cox, who seems like a deep thinking, introspective soul to write a damn good female protagonist. I found Melanie Thorton to be completely two dimensional and her relationship with Rick lacking any depth and sexual details. Considering Cox was notorious as Wonkette for the frank way she talked about sex, it's a real disappointment.
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