'O' by Anonymous review: It's no 'Primary Colors'

OLet’s just put the Primary Colors thing to rest right away, OK? It’s been very savvy of Simon and Schuster to mention O in the same breath as Joe Klein’s iconic 1996 novel about Clinton’s 1992 campaign. (In fact, S&S has launched the most skillfully-executed marketing campaign in recent publishing history to promote O, but that’s another story.) Primary Colors brimmed with sharp, funny, sly satire. Americans were all too aware of the Clintons’ foibles by the time it came out, so that made it even more compulsively readable.

O, set during the 2012 campaign, hits all the right inside-politics note. I’m not a Washington journalist — I suspect the Beltway crowd will be able to weigh in better than I can about whether the nuts and bolts of running a campaign are portrayed correctly. But it almost doesn’t matter. You didn’t read Primary Colors to learn how to execute a crippling “ad buy” or how to draft a candidate’s message. You read it for the dirt. And that’s what’s conspicuously missing from O. The Obamas, both in real life and in the novel, come off as squeaky-clean. And the Republican candidate in the book, the McCain-like Tom “Terrific” Morrison, is almost too good to be true, a morally upright, confident, affable retired general whose only Achilles heel, it seems, is his son, a teenager who might be mentally ill. (At one point, the kid attacks a reporter in a frenzied rage.) So how is a presidential race between too-good-to-be-true candidates a dishy, fun read? It’s not. There’s literally nothing to build the plot around except the inexorable month-by-month trudge to the polls.

Granted, if the characters were terrific — if you really got some sense that the author intimately knew the players in the room — then you might be able to make a book like this work.  Simon and Schuster has said that the author of O is someone who has been in the room with Obama. I’m thinking that means a very big room. O himself is little more than a sketch, as familiar to us as the man we see every day in news clips and photos, nothing more. There’s even less of Michelle Obama. Sarah Palin is reduced to caricature (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”) as is Obama’s presidential adviser David Axelrod. I don’t know who some of the other characters are meant to be and I’m not sure I want to, either — the oversexed bimbo reporter, the legacy campaign staffer; the unpleasant campaign director.

So there you have it. Short on character, short on plot — a hapless, poorly executed attempt at satire that’s missing literally everything that Primary Colors had going for it: the detail, the zing, the insidery knowledge, the humor. Let’s give S&S an A for marketing O so well. But let’s give the book itself a D.

Comments (10 total) Add your comment
  • Chaz Winterbottom

    “O” got a “D”? OMG.

  • Mrs.Bellatrix Riddle

    Sounded Bogus. I wouldnt buy it. Hope it flops.

  • forrest

    so why is Lawrence O’Donnel of MSNBC promoting this ‘anonymous’ book on his program?

  • AtteksDitelew

    так, напэўна так і ёсць

  • coachfactoryoutlet

    Youareamazing! This weblog is so great. I really hope a lot more people read this and get what you are saying, cause let me tell you, its critical stuff. I never would have thought about it this way unless I would run into your web site. Thanks for sharing it. I hope youve excellent achievement.

    • Saed

      Diosss me encanta el otfuit!!!! el paf1uelo es ideal, llevo tiempo busce1ndome uno de ese tipo en tonos marrones, ya que son los tonos que estoy llevando esta temporada. Las cuf1as parecen muy cf3modas!!!!! este tipo de zapatos se llevan cantidad (todaveda no tengo ninguno y esas me este1n tentando!!!)Besos

  • tresorparis

    Interesting post and view, hope to hear more what the future holds THANKS Great post. Probably saved thousands of hours between everybody here. For me,this clearly is a heads up on which methods to focus on to maximise my online success . Ill start concentrating on your other articles instead. Really great advice. Thanks for sharing.

  • tresorparis

    Great article. I cant wait to hear more about your research tool. If it is as good as your other products, then you will have another winner. Your article pretty much summed up what I have been seeing too. Great to see some hard data.

  • louisvuittonoutlet

    Thanks for interesting blog post. You guys are always provide information that it makes it impossible not to want to buy your next product ;I cant wait to see what you guys come up with based on all your research and data that you gather.

  • aaaaaaaaa

    spam go away

Add your comment
The rules: Keep it clean, and stay on the subject - or we may delete your comment. If you see inappropriate language, e-mail us. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field.

When you click on the "Post Comment" button above to submit your comments, you are indicating your acceptance of and are agreeing to the Terms of Service. You can also read our Privacy Policy.

Latest Videos in Books


From Our Partners

TV Recaps

Powered by WordPress.com VIP