O: A Presidential Novel is a novel that claims to explore “some resonant truths about what President Obama is thinking” through the veil of fiction. Because the author of O has remained anonymous, comparisons abound to Primary Colors, the Joe Klein novel about a Clinton-esque politician that was published anonymously. But Simon & Schuster is aiming a little bit higher with O. “By choosing anonymity,” writes Publisher Jonathan Karp over at the book’s website, “our author is following in the tradition of Jane Austen, the Brontës, The Federalist Papers, The Story of O, and, of course, Lemony Snicket.” So, just to clear things up, the author of O is remaining anonymous because they don’t want readers to know they’re a woman, because they want to influence the ratification of the Constitution, because O is a sadomasochistic novel that savagely deconstructs French sexual mores, and also because they want O to appeal to children. Who’s excited?
The publisher is still remaining mum on the identity of the author, although they will confirm that O‘s writer “has been in the room with Barack Obama,” so the suspect list has now been trimmed to approximately fifty kabillion people. Thankfully, Simon & Schuster released a few excerpts from the mysterious book, and the novel’s portrayal of President Obama is starting to take shape: A golf-obsessed elitist with a barely-restrained attraction to Sarah Palin.
Here’s the novel’s “O” on The Barracuda:
“There she was, thick hair piled up high, chin out, defiant, taunting, flaunting that whole lusty librarian thing, sweet and savory, mother and predator, alluring and dangerous.”
Thank goodness we know that the author has been in the room with the President, or else we might doubt the likelihood of the Chief Executive of the United States putting his feet up on his desk and waxing schoolboy-poetic about one of his main opponents. “Sweet and savory, mother and predator, alluring and dangerous.” Quick, someone check, has Danielle Steel ever been in the same room as Barack Obama?
The excerpts don’t go very deep into plot details, but it does seem like O is gamely attempting to transcend any obvious partisanship. By which I mean everyone in the excerpts comes off horribly. The President’s chief Republican opposition, Governor Tom “Terrific” Morrison, is a war hawk gasbag who accuses O of abject vanity just a few paragraphs after praising his own awesomeness:
“And although neither mentioned it to the other, both Morrisons doubted any of the other candidates possessed his reserves of courage and patriotism… Morrison kept to himself his conviction that O was a weak man, and like other weak men, resorted to vanity to hide his insecurity.”
O seems like it could be a lot of fun — the cast of characters lists “a dazzling young journalist … whose relationship with one of her sources could complicate her career aspirations” and “a veteran campaign chief forced to resign abruptly because of an affair with a teenage prostitute.” Best of all, though, is this character:
“Bianca Stefani, the mercurial founder of the anonymous Stefani Report, a news-aggregating, occasionally muckraking blogger free-for-all website that has become the cyber newspaper of record for leftist activists, intellectuals, and dilettantes from Williamsburg to West Hollywood.”
Clearly, that’s supposed to be Glenn Beck, right? Honestly, O seems like an out-and-out farce — the comparison to Lemony Snicket may be more telling than we know. Just check out this accompanying video of an Obama impersonator chatting genially about how much he loves the book (although skip forward to 3:30 if you want to be desperately offended):
Shelf Lifers, are you excited by this new information about O? Appalled? Think it sounds a little bit like a fictionalized version of Game Change?