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Face-Time Paperback – January 1, 2000

3.8 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket (January 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671039784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671039783
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,073,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is wonderful. This is one of those books that I stayed up all night to finish. Tarloff's writing filled me with the characters's joy and sorrow as if it were my own. The writing is exquisite. The book is perfect.
The first thing I did after finishing this book was to look for more books by Erik Tarloff, but there are none. I hope to see more by this author soon, whatever the subject.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Face Time, a sharp-eyed novel by former Bill Clinton speechwriter Erik Tarloff disproves George S. Kaufman's maxim that satire is something that closes in New Haven.
Published (coincidentallly) around the time of the Monica Lewinsky revelations, it's fictional merits may have been lost in the general scandal, but withstand the test of time. A confrontation between the speechwriting protagonist who's being cuckolded and the feckless President, who quotes Winston Churchill's misbehavior (apparently he was mean to his servants) is classic, as the long-suffering scribe calls him on it....Are you comparing yourself to Winston Churchill?
The book had a keen sense of human failure and rich novelistic detail, which leaves me puzzled about some of the negative responses to it on this site. I guess tastes differ. My hope is that it's re-release in this edition will gain it the wider attention i believe it richly deserves...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As an old English teacher, I return to this book because it holds a kind of timeless perspective. I think of Gatsby and those few books that capture a fundamental and unique character of our culture. It seems like a writer stumbles into something like that and it just happens. Facetime has that uniqueness of vision. I find it is a book so well written and inevitable that i wonder if, like Camus, who wrote the Stranger in two weeks, Tarloff had a similar experience as if the book wrote itself. But so much for the lofty point of view. I think I liked sneaking into the presidency and seeing what constellates around power.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have just revisited this book in its e-book format. A well written political satire which was originally published when it ironically proved to be reality. Buy it, read it today. Good reading demonstrating a truly excellent vocabulary by author, Erik Tarloff. More books needed by this writer!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an immensely readable book. Erik Tarloff writes with authority and knowledge, the characters he creates are fascinating, and frankly, I couldn't put the book down. I hope to see more from him.
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Format: Hardcover
Not witty, not hilarious, not funny (wickedly or otherwise), not believable, not riveting, not thoughtful, not superbly written, not razor-sharp, not savvy, and definitely not worth reading. The prose is plodding. The characters are utterly unsympathetic and unbelievable. The references to Desmond Morris, Casablanca, etc., are pitiful in their cut and paste awkwardness. And somehow, the plot manages to be both contrived and predictable.
Jim Lehrer, Michael Lewis, Larry Gelbart, Judy Woodruff, Gail Sheehy, and Christopher Hitchens should all be ashamed of lending their good names to the promotion of this dreary dreary book, regardless of how good a friend Tarloff or his wife might be. The only one of of the group that came close to the truth in her jacket blurb was Woodruff. If in calling it the "ultimate Washington novel," she's referring to the fact that in D.C, too often who you know is more important than what you know, then she's right on the money.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Erik Tarloff's "Face-Time"is told by a speech-writer in President Sheffield's (read Clinton's) White House, where the president takes a fancy to his lady. Brilliantly, poignantly and yet ever-wittily told by a genuine insider who really knew what he was talking about: a vivid, compellingly readable story of sex in the corridors of power. The president's self-defense on the Truman Balcony,
where he quotes Churchill on the privileges of power,is very nearly persuasive.
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Format: Hardcover
A very enjoyable read. Face Time is topical, in light of the Monica/Clinton story. It is also a very interesting exploration of modern relationships and the ways we justify prioritizing our work vs family.
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