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January 27, 2011

Finally, The Mystery You Just Didn't Care About Is Solved: A Guy You Barely Heard of Wrote a Book You Weren't Interested In

Mark Salter, a McCain aide, wrote that "O" novel. He recently offered a complete non-denial when asked -- stating the publisher asked him not to comment either way, and he was doing as they asked (why would they ask him to not comment if he wasn't the writer?) -- and now Time claims they have sources that confirm this.

Having not read the book, I don't know if it's any good. I assume it's not, because 90% of everything is crap and we can up that to 95% for political fictions.

But I found the NYT's hyper-liberal reviewer's review sort of funny in how obvious it was that the reviewer didn't like the book because it said bad stuff about Lord God King Obama.

Well, now we know why the author of this much gossiped about, heavily marketed new book wanted to remain anonymous: “O: A Presidential Novel” is a thoroughly lackadaisical performance — trite, implausible and decidedly unfunny.

There has been plenty of online speculation that the author of “O” may be a political reporter, blogger or onetime member of President Obama’s staff, but while he or she clearly has a feel for what it’s like to be on the campaign trail, much of what passes for inside knowledge in these pages would be known to anyone who’s read a bunch of campaign accounts, subscribed to Mike Allen’s “Playbook” or watched “Morning Joe.”

The novel — set during the 2012 campaign — wants us to think we’re learning something about the real-life White House and the real-life mediasphere. But the characters who are meant to sound familiar — including a news-aggregating Web site’s founder, who speaks in “heavily accented English,” and a rumpled White House adviser, charged with “protecting the president’s brand” — are clumsily drawn caricatures. And while an executive at the book’s publisher says, in an online note, that he hopes this book may “offer some resonant truths about what President Obama is really thinking,” the title character turns out to be a snarkily drawn cartoon too: a conceited narcissist whose inner life consists of gripes about his opponents, frustration with his job, daydreams about golf, and self-congratulatory pats on his own back, combined with put-downs of the country at large.

This is a good example of media nothing's belief that simple membership in the media makes them all-around all-purpose experts without portfolio.

Notice this book reviewer claims that the book authentically depicts life on the campaign trail. Other reviewers gushed about how authentic Primary Colors was, and how that proved it must be someone on Clinton's staff, etc. This reviewer notes:

uch of what passes for inside knowledge in these pages would be known to anyone who’s read a bunch of campaign accounts, subscribed to Mike Allen’s “Playbook” or watched “Morning Joe.”

Right, exactly, but that's the limit of your knowledge, too, Hoss.

In other words, book reviewers are claiming that this book authentically describes life on the campaign trail and in the White House despite themselves having absolutely no actual experience with such things... apart from watching the West Wing. Or subscribing to Mike Allen's "Playbook." Or watching Morning Joe.

See?

A reviewer can say a book creates an impression of versimilitude in the mind of a layman who really doesn't know what "real" would look like, but how can this jackass say it "clearly" demonstrates an insider's familiarity with the campaign trail?

I see nothing in this Wikipedia bio indicating that she has any experience in anything except criticizing books.

But, you know, she's a New York Times critic, so she knows what the campaign trail must be like and can authoritatively say when an author has nailed it.

I presume when she reviews books set in hospitals she can also authoritatively state whether or not the author has captured the feel of a real hospital, too.

Because: Critic. Works in the media. Must know everything.

I noticed all these dummies in the media saying stuff like that. That this O book was "realistic." Um, dudes? How would you know?

The most you can say is that it has the feel of authenticity, at least as regards an inexpert outsider. And of course that's an important virtue of a book -- I have no idea if Tom Clancy was getting the details of submarine warfare right in Hunt for Red October or not, but I can say he successfully bullshitted me if he wasn't.

But that's all I can say. I am not a submariner and I cannot then claim he "clearly" understood submarine warfare.

But these guys all can, apparently.

They just know everygoddamnthing, don't they? Same reason news reader Brian Williams can go on a talk show and offer me key geopolitical insights.


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posted by Ace at 02:40 PM

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