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Face-Time Paperback – January 1, 2000
Face-Time is set at an unspecified date in the early 21st century, when the sex scandals rocking the presidency of Bill Clinton have faded into history--but the Washington, D.C., in which it takes place isn't too much different from that of 1998. Ben Krause is a thirtysomething speechwriter for charismatic president Charles Sheffield. His girlfriend, Gretchen, works in the White House travel office--and when President Sheffield catches sight of her at a party, he quickly executes his droit de seigneur. When he finally puts the pieces together, Ben is naturally less than thrilled... especially when Gretchen reports that she doesn't want to break up with him and she doesn't intend to stop servicing the chief executive.
First-time novelist Erik Tarloff--the husband of former Clinton advisor Laura Tyson and an occasional contributor to Clinton's speeches--has a firm sense of plot development, although at times the narration comes across as overerudite, as Ben casually drops allusions to Desmond Morris, the madwoman of Chaillot, Casablanca, and other topics that make the young protagonist seem about a decade or so older. But this is a minor quibble that does nothing to detract from the book's perfect suitability for a weekend's entertainment. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Political speechwriter Ben Krause discovers his girlfriend has better access to his boss?the president of the U.S.?than Ben does. The question, in Beltway insider Tarloff's timely first novel, is whether the affair really bothers him. Ben and curvaceous, plainspoken Gretchen Burns, who works in the White House Office of Social Affairs, make an ambitious young Washington couple who don't have to be told twice about the value of "face-time" or direct access to the president. They receive all the right invitations, including private film screenings with the president and first lady and their coterie of friends. There, Gretchen catches the commander in chief's eye and soon Ben is being sent out of town on unlikely peace missions. A wry, self-deprecating and appealing narrator given to gee-whiz expressions ("I know it sounds dopey and sappy"), Ben struggles with the issue of sharing his girlfriend with a man who, on one hand, is the leader of the free world, yet, on the other, represents a humiliating insult to his manhood. Gretchen, in contrast, remains the not terribly bright opportunist observers have come to recognize from presidential scandals, notwithstanding Tarloff's attempt to portray her sympathetically. The husband of Laura D'Andrea Tyson, who served on the Council of Economic Advisers for President Clinton, and a speechwriter himself, Tarloff has penned a book that is more a benign meditation on the effects of being cuckolded than a pointed political send-up, although his acute observations aptly illustrate how absolute power can corrupt absolutely. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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Consider just one sentence that demonstrates this author's distinctive style. You don't have to get far into the book to reach this first of many nadirs the book has to offer. It's in the second paragraph of the first chapter. Here it is:
"They come accompanied by a certain measure of irony, even self-satire, since a good part of her youth and adolescence was spent in Washington, and she graduated from Georgetown; she isn't exactly fresh off the farm."
There are 256 pages of sentences like this facing anyone masochistic enough to try and shovel through it. Its almost impossible to make it all the way through, because the author keeps grabbing you around the ankles and throwing you to the ground with pointless, rambling, disjointed prose such as the quote above.
This book is a total waste of paper and ink and (worse) people's time. Despite the fact another write got the title first, this book is the one that truly deserves the title "Less Than Zero."
Hey Erik & Laura - is this your story????
Worst of all, the story is all tell and no show; that is to say, the narrator doesn't describe events and feelings but informs you of them. You never get a sense of what's happening or where it's happening because you're told "I was upset" or "He was impressive" or "It was a moving speech." Thanks, but I like my books to transport me somewhere, especially when we're supposed to be traveling inside places like the White House movie theater and Paris night clubs.
Once I came upon the page in which the narrator meets some Parisian woman who is supposed to be struggling with English but easily uses the word "putative" and easily recognizes a White House speechwriter, I gave up. END
It is a valid question in another review I saw here: is it tarloff's story? Why else would someone draw out such horrible pain with so little comic relief except as some form of payback?
It just made me sad.