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George Bush, Dark Prince of Love: A Presidential Romance Paperback – January 25, 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Realists will scoff at George Bush, Dark Prince of Love. Absurdists, however, may rejoice. To put it politely, the narrator of Lydia Millet's satire is fat, felonious, trailer-park trash who's out to replace Barbara Bush in the president's affections. The narrator, however, would describe herself differently--for despite her unfortunate circumstances, Rosemary could give Lucian lessons in rhetoric and trade bons mots with Oscar Wilde. From the start, she's convinced that she and Mr. Bush are soul mates: "I found I was beginning to look forward to G.B.'s sound bites and public appearances with the childish curiosity and appetite I had formerly reserved for Seabreezes, monster-truck rallies, and all-you-can-eat breakfast buffets." As she does her best to worm her way into the chief executive's affections while trying to avoid further incarceration, Rosemary moves in with the aged Russell, who comes complete with a voice box, dentures, a serious cocaine habit, and the most revolting friends in the history of humanity. Nonetheless, the man is a Bush fan, and our heroine prefers his home as a base of operations. Though Rosemary found G.B.'s inaugural performance a turn-on, it isn't until the Gulf War heats up that she really falls in love:
I'd started to tape CNN during the day, while my role as a stalwart blue-collar American worker kept me away from my duties to G.B. At night I would fast-forward through the tape during commercials in the live coverage, until I caught sight of him. And then I'd sit there dreamily, a deer in the headlights of his transformation. G.B. was a man of action, a G.I. Joe fresh off the assembly line with special-edition gray hair. Only like those Russian dolls, there was a different G.B. inside the warlike Commander in Chief: a gangly prepubescent. The tension between them transfixed me.
Millet clearly intends the tension between her narrator's vision and reality to transfix us--and it can over a short space of time. If you're in the right mood, you'll find it hard to resist Rosemary's take on things, even as you wonder how someone with such a fine turn of phrase can have so little self-knowledge. But it's all part of her dubious charm: only this behemoth could transpose 10 days in an asylum into "an informal, ad hoc study of the mental-health industry, which had served to confirm my original hypothesis on the subject." Even those who tire of the novel's conceit will want to skip ahead to Rosemary's one encounter with the great man. Suffice it to say that things don't go at all as planned. --Kerry Fried

From Publishers Weekly

The 41st president's gaffes are milked for all they're worth in Millet's (Omnivores) coy political satire. In four sections, one per presidential year, Rosemary--the brainy, obese ex-con whose memoirs these purport to be--models her life after the former president's. For example, when President Bush takes his revenge on turncoat U.S. client/dictator Manuel Noriega, Rosemary ruins the life of a cop, her enemy, by revealing his infidelities to his wife. Though she dreams of First Lady "B.B."'s fall from grace and her own subsequent romance with "G.B.," Rosemary must settle for less in the short term, so she moves in with Russki, a septuagenarian Korean war vet. When she isn't wrangling with Russki, she spends most of her time in her "war room" talking to "G.B." on TV, contemplating a G.B. crucifix she has fashioned--"GHWB" replacing "INRI"--and firing off memos to the Casa Blanca. One such missive results in her detention by the FBI. When Rosemary inherits Russki's wealth by means of a falsified will, she moves to Washington and becomes a big-ticket Republican contributor in a vain attempt to get close to G.B. Rosemary's doxological rants thinly conceal Millet's views about what she sees as Bush's opportunism and narrow class loyalties, sometimes overpowering the narrative. Millet has fun juxtaposing crudities with pompous politicking: in one wild sequence, Rosemary eats a Hungry Man and plays "Dos Perros" with an illegal immigrant lover while Bush and Thatcher confer on Iraq. Rosemary later arranges the lover's deportation to Mexico, quoting G.B.: "This will not stand." Each short chapter is prefaced by one of President's Bush's memorably maladroit remarks. Didacticism aside, there are some real belly laughs in this odd story-so long as the reader's political sympathies match Millet's. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Original ed. edition (January 25, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684862743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684862743
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,972,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lydia Millet is a novelist and short-story writer known for her dark humor, idiosyncratic characters and language, and strong interest in the relationship between humans and other animals. Born in Boston, she grew up in Toronto and now lives outside Tucson, Arizona with her two children, where she writes and works in wildlife conservation. Sometimes called a "novelist of ideas," Millet won the PEN-USA award for fiction for her early novel My Happy Life (2002); in 2010, her story collection Love in Infant Monkeys was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2008, 2011, and 2012 she published three novels in a critically acclaimed series about extinction and personal loss: How the Dead Dream, Ghost Lights, and Magnificence. June 2014 will see the publication of her first book for young-adult readers, Pills and Starships -- an apocalyptic tale of death contracts and climate change set in the ruins of Hawaii.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If, say, Roseanne and Jeff Foxworthy were to inhabit the Sunday morning political talk shows instead of Sam and Cokie, you might find humor and current-events commentary similar to "George Bush: Dark Prince of Love." This fairly short book is part political satire, part modern history lesson and part bizarre and humorous character portrait. Protagonist Rosemary -- ex-con, sometime substance abuser, con artist -- is the classic antihero: you like her and root for her despite her antisocial and often unattractive personality traits. The novel is structured chronologically around George Bush's presidency, as Rosemary becomes more and more infatuated (obsessed?) with Mr. Bush's public persona and executes a plan to gain his attention and win his love. Without spoiling it, let's just say that the denouement is hilarious and perfectly appropriate. I am still wondering just who in the book is crazy and who is not: Rosemary? Mr. Bush? Both? Neither? While I heartily enjoyed this book, it definitely will not appeal to everyone. Disguised within Rosemary's admiring commentary is biting and keen observation about the Bush presidency, so if you sincerely admire and respect Mr. Bush, this is not a good choice for you. If you are not a big fan of absurdism (a la Tom Robbins or John Irving, for example), or if the snarky tone of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" leaves you cold, you would also do well to look elsewhere. But if you're looking for keen political satire in the guise of a rather bizarre romance, give this unusual and smartly written book a try.
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Format: Paperback
I was drawn to this book because of the Celine Dion-like (great big head, tiny body) depiction of G.B. on the cover. Though I have nothing but feelings of contempt for G.B., I was compelled to read this book anyway. The idea that anyone would decided to write a story about an obese ex-con developing an obsession for a man like President Bush was both appalling and intriguing to me. The story itself was equally interesting and entertaining. I found myself laughing out loud at many of Rosemary's harsh sublties. My only criticizm for the book is this - too many people were staring and pointing at me as I read this book on the subway.
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Format: Paperback
This is a clever little book about Rosemary's obsession with George Bush the Elder. For those of us who aren't taken with the Bushes, either the elder George or the present president or the governor of Florida, the book gives us something to smile about. While I kept wanting the book to be better-- although some of the descriptions of GB and BB, as they are called in the book, are quite delicious-- the quotations of George Bush that start each chapter alone make the book worth reading. I had forgotten just how inarticulate the elder Bush was. It must be generational.
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By A Customer on January 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
I'm not usually a big fan of political humor, but this book made me laugh pretty hard. It skewers G.B. through the conceit of loving him, which makes it particularly effective and scathing. In fact, if you look in the dictionary under "scathing," you'll find a tiny pic of Lydia Millet and her new book. No, really, it's there! My only criticism is that it's currently only available in paperback. I'd love to smack Bush Jr. with the hardcover edition. Ouch.
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Format: Paperback
Well, I knew from the title alone that I would love this book. However, I had no clue that it would be as brilliant a lampoon as it is.
The plot focuses on how a woman who embodies all the victim's of George H.W. Bush comes fanatically loyal and obsessed with him.
While exceedingly understated, this defines savage satire. The irony is delicious and not at all overwrought; fortunately it is short as any longer and the humor would quickly transcend the point of diminishing returns.

This is definitely dark, sardonic humor. If you have a cynical bent, you will love this.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed the book and nearly fell out of bed laughing many times. Lydia Millet has a dry sense of humor. Her main character is along the lines of what most would have labeled as "trailer trash." If you like irony and twisted, irrational main characters, you'll likely enjoy this short novel.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like protons and electrons or something. Lydia Millet's 'My Happy Life' tore me to shreds with its realism of harsh times, harsh lives, and those forced unwillingly into horrid circumstances. Where 'My Happy Life' is depressing with raw helplessness, 'Dark Prince Of Love' is hilarious in pointing towards the everyday psychotic behavior of those whom you pass cautiously on the sidewalk, knowing something is wrong but unable to pinpoint it.

'GB, Dark Prince Of Love' had me shrieking with laughter, written from the psychotic POV of Rosemary, an ex-con who spent time in a maximum security prison for running a stop sign and killing her passenger and best friend Shelly.

Released from prison and set up in a mobile home park in 1989, she is free just in time to absorb herself in the election process of George Bush Senior. She has a job on an assembly line folding box tops when she meets Russell in a drugstore line. Russell is an antisocial Korean War vet with a laryngectomy, a cocaine habit, and a penchant for pulling mean pranks.

The book told in comical, first person perspective by Rosemary, who takes GB's speeches so literally that she uses them to guide her everyday life. Learning from GB's "outright denial-tactic" of his relationship with Noriega, Rosemary gets Russell drunk and convinces him to sign over the deed to his house to her.

When Russell almost OD's on cocaine, Rosemary gets scolded in the ER, Russell is forced into a dry out facility where he breaks his hip during a chair-standing soliloquy that no one understood because of his voice box. Rosemary sets up her shrine to GB in Russell's basement, and moves into his house, taking up with an illegal Mexican immigrant named Jose while Russell is hospitalized.
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