All in Book Review

With her new novel, A Gate at the Stairs, Moore takes an unexpectedly blunt political turn, eschewing the wit and grace for which she had been appreciated. Moore’s literary odyssey demonstrates that there’s no better way to become a legend than by staying out of the limelight, and no worse way to disappoint than by stepping forward and revealing you have nothing to say.

How free is democracy? How do raids perpetuate apartheid? Is economic competition the result of an innate human viciousness? The answers to these and other political questions, framed as a series of short essays, allow J.M. Coetzee to expose the fragility and incoherence of strong political opinions in his latest novel, Diary of a Bad Year.

Everybody knows that politicians lie. They mudsling, twist facts, and express regret over things, often claiming that what they “actually meant at the time” was misconstrued. In fact, it is so obvious that the noses of our current leaders are unnaturally long that it is not even cool to talk about it anymore. Bush is a liar, Cheney’s a bigger liar, and Rove’s the biggest, fattest liar of all. Everyone knows it. Everyone accepts it. No one seems to care.

On the Campaign Trail ‘72, a remarkably entertaining and, more often than one would expect, insightful account of the campaign, from the fight for the Democratic nomination to the race between George McGovern and Richard Nixon for the presidency. For Democrats interested in winning the 2004 election, Thompson’s analysis of the ‘72 campaign is a must-read, especially in light of the frequent comparisons between McGovern and current frontrunner Howard Dean that one hears from commentators left and right these days.