FauxPolitik

Friday, November 04, 2005

Pile On: Not content to let Scooter Libby face the same justice as any other American, the New Yorker dredges up and ridicules his novel, The Apprentice. Typical of the most provincial urban weekly in existence, it is content to leave unbroken its long, long run of never questioning the Liberal Northeastern conventional wisdom. The issue here is that Scooter's book, like most novels of any serious length, deals with some sex. (And since it takes place in Japan, the sex is bound to feature some typically Japanese eccentricities.) Now, naturally the New Yorker believes that everyone to the right of Sam Nunn is either a sexless, joyless puritan, or a repressed homosexual, pedophile, rapist, or cross-dresser. Naturally. "Libby has a lot to live up to as a conservative author of erotic fiction," begins the writer, Lauren Collins, who goes on the quote racy bits from the novels of other known crypto-fascists like the Williams Buckley et Safire. But I don't think any of them wrote erotic fiction. I think they just wrote fiction. Are the sex scenes in any of them a little, er, purple? That I leave up to you, dear reader. Click over to Ms. Collins's piece and judge.

Even worse, though, Collins calls in "Nancy Sladek, the editor of Britain’s Literary Review, which, each year, holds a contest for bad sex writing in fiction" to judge the quality (and, apparently, perversity) of literary conservative coitus. Sladek calls Libby's sex scenes "a bit depraved" and "boring," before going on to say "God, they’re an odd bunch, these Republicans." Odder than, say, a liberal novelist like John Irving or Norman Mailer? Riiiiiiight. And obviously Sladek has been told that the writer is a Republican, as is obvious from her own words. Wouldn't it be more interesting, though, to hear her unbiased thoughts? Since, you know, conservatives are all guilt-ridden bizzare sex fiends in denial.

Then there's the snickering at the book's

antique locutions—"The girl who wore the cloak of yellow fur"; "one wore backward a European hat"—that make the phrase a "former Hill staffer," by comparison, seem straightforward.
I have no idea how bad Libby's book really is. From the passages quoted, it sounds like your basic over-researched historical potboiler, though the writing is at least not as bad as some of Mailer's crap. As for the difficulty of the locutions, look at any fawned-over novel written within the last 10 years, and you'll find shit so impenetrable, they have to award it some kind of prize.

The occasional usefulness of a serious, non-political New Yorker piece is no longer worth the slog through the magazine's turgid political self-satisfaction. Cancel my subscription.

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