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O: A Presidential Novel Hardcover – January 25, 2011
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Let�s start with a paraphrase: I�ve read Primary Colors (1996), and this is no Primary Colors. Clearly, Simon & Schuster was hoping that lightning would strike twice if they were to publish a political novel by Anonymous: a publicity storm would ensue, and everyone would be talking about O. The problem is that Joe Klein, the Anonymous behind Primary Colors, was writing about a president, Bill Clinton, who liked to bonk as much as wonk, which added a salacious edge to that �inside story.� O�s chief personality faults are occasional pettiness, an inflated ego, and three cigarettes a day. Moreover, the first time out, there was the intriguing question of Klein�s motivation. Here, that seems clearer: the author, perhaps a disgruntled Obamaite, seems peeved that the president didn�t live up to the mantle of hope and change, though at times he (or she) suggests that an impatient electorate may be equally to blame. The plot, which imagines the events of the upcoming 2012 election, offers little that�s unexpected. Some of the characters are so obvious�David Axelrod, Arianna Huffington�that Anonymous could just as well have used their names. James Carville makes an appearance as a cadaverous media hound (also fairly obvious). Other characters are composites: the Republican candidate seems to be Mitt Romney, had Mitt Romney ever been a general in the army. Although the author is described as a D.C. insider, there�s not much here that couldn�t have been gleaned from reading, well, The Huffington Post. The flap copy notes that Anonymous has been �in the room with Barack Obama.� A ballroom seems more likely than the Oval Office. --Ilene Cooper
About the Author
The author was raised in the Bay Area. She started her first media company at age eighteen while attending Long Beach State University. Soon after, she launched and sold a social networking site geared toward moms and began a social media agency, working with Fortune 500 companies. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Mothering, and iVillage.com, where her satirical pieces on parenting and politics have often gone viral. In May 2012, she created Honest Toddler, a character based on her youngest child. She lives with her family outside of Montreal.
Top customer reviews
There are also some embarrassingly simpleton-like negative descriptors hinting at an Arianna Huffington character.("Dahling") But, worse than the promise of broad literary political character "insider" assassination... that is never launched... is the author's overbearing use of words in almost every job description or political action. Time after time... when a teardrop full of words would suffice... the author unleashes an avalanche instead.
There is no suspense in this book... there is no crescendo... and the advertising gimmick alluding to "insider" delicacies... is never delivered. It was a great effort to make it through this entire book.
The first 10% of this book, I read with care and attention.
The second 10% seemed to fly by with the r/h flipper going faster and faster.
Finally, it seemed easier and less wearing on my right thumb, to just go to 99% and see if something had happened.
Summation: It probably would have been a good idea if "anonymous" had tried better to stay that way. This book could not do a whole lot to further a speech-writer's reputation.
The characters aren't really people. They are simply internal monologues with people's names.
There's no action. Anonymous doesn't write about things as they happen; everything is back story. Even events that take place during the timeline of the book don't happen in front of our eyes. Anonymous moves the story three days forward so characters can discuss what happened in past tense. The only real-time occurences in the book are cocktail parties, private meetings, and ruminations.
There's little dialogue. Sure, people talk, but they don't reveal much to us in their actual conversation. Instead, a character says something, and then the author spends three pages telling us what the character thought but didn't say. Then there's another page and a half while the next character thinks about what the first character said. Finally the second character speaks a few lines, and both of them spend several more pages thinking about their respective positions.
People in politics are ambitious, motivated and driven by either ideas or egos or both. A presidential campaign is fascinating; it captures the attention of most of the country for at least two years. This book manages to give it all the fast-paced appeal of a race between two snails.
For Kindle readers: this book lacks an interactive table of contents.
Most recent customer reviews
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