Government Girl: Young and Female in the White House - Stacy Parker Aab
Stories about the Dustbowl, as told by those who stayed and didn't head for California, or the lives of non-racist whites in the southern states during the Civil Rights era are among my favorite books. Think of Jimmy Breslin's most famous column, interviewing the gravedigger before John F. Kennedy's funeral. These are the stories I remember.
Add to that list the experiences of Parker (now Parker Aab), who was a young outsider intern in the Clinton White House trying to find her footing in an adult world and the world of politics. Then, the Lewinsky story broke.
Plenty of power players, both inside and outside the White House, have had their say about that time. Parker's is a unique viewpoint, that of a woman who dealt with the same players as Lewinsky, as well as Lewinsky herself. Clinton comes across as needy but not necessarily creepy. Vernon Jordan is not so lucky; her experiences with him show that often the political handlers, not the politicians, are actually the ones we should worry about.
My main complaint would be listening to a distinctly middle-class woman, if not upper-middle class, decry the opportunities that were not afforded her. Perhaps she still feels sorry for herself for not coming from the Ivy-educated halls or old-money lineage. But clearly it didn't keep her from a gig in George Stephanopolous' office. Or a book deal.
The book also isn't that well written. But as a unique insight into a historical event we all know, it's worth the time.
Fool - Christopher Moore
Full disclosure: I do not belong to the cult of Moore. I find much of his writing too weird.
That said, I absolutely adored this book, which reminded me a lot more of the ridiculous social satire of "Blazing Saddles" than, say, Moore's attempt to tell the story of Christ as seen through an absurd best friend named Biff.
Fool is basically a retelling of King Lear through the eyes of the liege's jester. But that's not all. Moore imports the three witches from MacBeth and any other Shakespearian character or writing device - there's always a bloody ghost -- he thinks could be of use.
And he's blue. Bawdy and rude, he manages to stay blue largely by using the British slang. The F-word used repeatedly would be distracting. To read of shagging and snogging -- and there is a lot of it -- somehow isn't as off-putting.
(Full disclosure: I did love the fool's favorite exclamation and may now try to slip "Fuckstockings" into more conversations).
The writing is at turns brilliant, clever and downright silly. One of the more fantastic puns I've ever read involve naming the witches Parsley, Sage and Rosemary. Wait until you hear about Thyme.
It is also an awesome feat to have taken what I view as the darkest of Shakespeare's and make it a comedy. Remember, this is a story where basically everyone we care about must die, often in a gruesome manner.
I have renewed respect for my fellow Buckeye. Not sure if his other works will land on my reading table, though you never know. As he writes through the fool, "We are all fate's bastards."