Friday, September 12, 2008

"Realer than Realism"

As the theater-of-the-absurd political opera limbers up for its next round of yodeling, we might ask, can anyone write fiction better than this? Apparently, yes, say some reviews of one-time DC resident Curtis Sittenfeld’s third book American Wife (though the NYT didn't love it). Sittenfeld's protagonist bears a striking—no, no, it's pretty much Laura Bush. What to make of this? “Realer than realism”? “All too realism”? It’s not political satire, although some people averting their eyes from certain passages may wish it had been. Sittenfeld has some company in this endeavor, A.M. Homes’s “The Former First Lady and the Football Hero” (in Things You Should Know) and Robert Olen Butler’s “18 ½”—but it seems like a tightrope walk to write. You decide—catch her reading from it Friday (tonight) at 7 at Politics and Prose. And, as she told Salon, “If you don't know if something in the book has some real life parallel to the Bushes, then you should assume it's made up."

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