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Dog Days Mass Market Paperback – Bargain Price, February 6, 2007

3 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, Bargain Price, February 6, 2007
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade (February 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594482322
  • ASIN: B001G8WSI2
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,807,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

We moved around a lot. That's what did it, I think. Born in Puerto Rico, I was dragged around the south-central region of the country as my father hopped academic jobs: New Orleans, Dallas, Austin for the longest stretches of time and then, finally, Lincoln, Neb. Constantly being immersed in new situations forces you to pick up local mores and social heirachies quickly... figuring out who people are sucking up to, what favors are being traded and how not to get your lunch money stolen. This was exceptionally good training for Washington, though in all of these cases my keen knowledge of tribal customs didn't necessarily mean that I found myself trading cows with the chief, though I have avoided getting beaten up. Until that Washington Post review. Ouch.

I am currently at work on my next book -- a non-fiction anthropological survey of young political operators, though "work" is a flexible term at the moment. My husband provides the health care and the coffee, my three pets provide templates for good nap practices. Be like the cat.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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
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: Hardcover
Noting that Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds linked to this book on his blog, and respecting the good professor as the blogosphere's most trenchant commentator, I expected Dog Days to be bold, edgy, or in some way irreverent. Regrettably, I found nothing at all distinctive about it. Indeed, it has a humdrum, so-last-year feel to it -- as exemplified by the author's obsessive focus on the main character's fetishizing of her blackberry as though it were a hot new gizmo. Similarly, the plot so barely fictionalizes people and events that have already received massive coverage (Washingtonienne Jessica Cutler, the 2004 Kerry and Bush campaigns) that I was left bemoaning the author's lack of imagination. Cox does write the occasional witty and sardonic repartee for her two leads, but I agree with an earlier Amazon reviewer's comment that the book feels like a rush-job and is substantially devoid of the clever thinking and writing so emblematic of today's most popular bloggers.
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Format: Hardcover
"Dog Days" isn't interesting for its characters or the plot, which is chick lit meets roman-a-clef political satire.

Indeed, the best parts of the book come from a few lines where the characters observe life in Washington for the political/media elite.

For example, one character had a great take on why 40-year-old men in DC date twentysomething interns. Another describes what a Washington cocktail party is REALLY like. Later in the book, another character muses on the effectiveness of President Golden (read: Bush) "pushing Mom, flag, apple pie, pickup trucks and mortgages" during his re-election campaign.

"There's a whole generation of young people who live a life based on absentee parents and McDonald's vegetarianism, credit card debt and one-night hookups," the character says. "They're entering the professional class now and their mores and norms will define the new middle class."

This remark would have made a more interesting essay to read than passing dialogue in a novel. I think this book would have been better if the author threw out the fiction and stuck to full-length essays in the style that made her noteworthy in the first place.
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