9 long, dark nights for America: 2016: The Novel

by awindram

Nine long, dark nights to go. 

Trump’s Daily Twitter Highlight: “We are now leading in many polls, and many of these were taken before the criminal investigation announcement on Friday – great in states! Hillary and the Dems loved and praised FBI Director Comey just a few days ago. Original evidence was overwhelming, should not have delayed! Wow, Twitter, Google and Facebook are burying the FBI criminal investigation of Clinton. Very dishonest media!”

Clinton’s Daily Twitter Highlight: “With Donald, it’s always Donald Trump first and everyone else last.

Daily election article of interest: 2016: THE NOVEL

A point I’ve belabored at times in these election blogs is the thought that the 2016 campaign may well be the great American novel.

The novelist Thomas Mallon doesn’t go as far as that, but his essay in The New Yorker of how we could go about novelizing this election is fascinating:

If I were compelled to produce a book of fiction about the 2016 election, Hillary would be my full-throated choice for its principal point-of-view character. I’m with her, because I feel right at home in the dank gymnasium of her mind, where she is forever teaming up and exercising and rearranging the different parts of her personality, benching whichever ones have no usefulness to the present moment, the latest disaster or crisis, and telling all the others to suit up. If Nixon was shredded and poisoned by each of his pre-Presidential defeats, Hillary died a little with each of Bill’s victories, one after another, in Arkansas and beyond, all of them forcing her to stand at a spot on the stage that she knew she should not be occupying. Her life was supposed to take place behind the lectern, not beside it, hoisting the hand of the man who’d just got the votes …

Would I not be obligated to enter the—what should I call it—consciousness of Donald J. Trump? The answer is no, and I can honestly maintain that I’m asserting not a point of personal preference here but a literary imperative. Trump lacks even the two-dimensionality required in a sociopath; the emotional range is as impoverished as the vocabulary. Trump simply advances, like the Andromeda strain, a case of arrested development that is somehow also metastatic. Even “the Donald” sounds more like an analogue than like a person.

Naturally with a piece like this there is a lot to agree and disagree on. While I would agree with Mallon that Trump would not make for a rounded, three-dimensional character, I also think that’s precisely what’s fun about him and his very real strength as an American grotesque.

So Mallon’s statement that Trump’s vocabulary is “impoverished” is one that ignores the rich, comic cadence of Trump. Sure, if you want a novel that aspires to be irreproachable and in the best possible taste, you center it on Clinton. But Trump is the interesting American archetype, and the GOP race with all that cast of characters is where a wonderful flabby mess of a novel could be found – and the great American novels are almost always without fail funny and flabby.

Look at some of the candidates, Catch 22, Lolita, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Moby Dick, they are all funny reads – anyone who would try and tell you Moby Dick isn’t bursting with humor has clearly never read it, and so the problem I have with Mallon’s proposed election novel is where is the humor to be found in Clinton? I fear Mallon would end up with a novel of well-intended dullness.

Trump, however, well there’s a man who clearly could be one of literature’s great comic creations, an American Švejk if you will, or, perhaps even better, a Donald Quixote, who, unlike his antecedent, doesn’t delude just himself about his incredible abilities but also convinces 47% of the electorate to share in those delusions.

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