“A MASTERFUL WAY OF DESCRIBING BREASTS”

That’s a quote from my friend and colleague Chip Rowe, writing on the Playboy blog in praise of The Coup. It’s quite gratifying to have this compliment from this source, since Chip, who writes the Playboy Advisor column, has read more than a few breast descriptions in his day, and has some authority in this field. Chip has other nice things to say, and I’m grateful for his encouragement.

NOTHING IS SACRED, CHEERS BUFFALO

Folks in Buffalo certainly know a thing or two about taking shots at political figures; after all, Buffalo was where William McKinley got shot in 1901. Thus it was particularly gratifying to read Gene Warner‘s review in The Buffalo News on Sunday: “If you revere all things Washington, including the “public servants” of our universe, find something else to read. But if you like a large dash of cynicism in your fictional reading, here’s the place to apply.” Thanks, Gene. To read his entire review, click here.

REQUIRED READING, SAYS THE NEW YORK POST

“An outrageous piece of work that should cause a slew of inappropriate public laughter,” enthused William Georgiades in Sunday’s New York Post. “Perfect nonsense sprinkled with bitter truths, much like Spy used to be back in those funny, funny years.” Thanks, Will. It’s hard to think of a compliment that pleases me more than one that reconnects me to the spirit of Spy. To read the whole review, click here.

HE SHOULD KNOW

If you want to know why we should have stayed out of Iraq, perhaps you should ask an expert—someone known for his steadiness, sound judgment, and knowledge of military and intelligence issues. Someone, perhaps, like—Dick Cheney! This interview ran on C-SPAN on 1994. Clearly Dick Cheney knew what he was talking about. Dick Cheney should have listened to him.

MUST SEE

The Lives of Others, one of our favorite films from this past year, has just come out on DVD. Winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, the movie is about the cheapening of life in a police state, and, not so incidentally, how simple acts of courage can inspire others to take a stand. It’s the kind of film that can make you proud to be n American–and make you aware at the same time that part of being an American is maintaining a healthy skepticism about the government and our leaders. (To see the trailer, click here.)

THANKS, BARNSIE! THANKS, NOBES!

Thanks to Barnes and Noble Astor Place, which hosted a reading for me on August 14th. It’s always flattering to a giantish picture of yourself in a store window. A special thanks to Paul for arranging things and introducing me, and to my friends Marilyn Haft, Judy Arthur, Joanne Gruber, Carol Vinzant, Carolyn Pilkington and Catharine Carroll (and her friend Zooey) for coming, and especially to the Isaac FamilyDavid, Lorraine, Rachel and Harrison–who went above and beyond the call of neighborliness in leaving leafy Briarcliff and trekking 20-odd miles to sultry Manhattan to hear an excerpt.

STUCK

It’s very hard to sit through No End In Sight (see the trailer here), the new documentary by Charles Ferguson about the American misadventure in Iraq, and not feel deeply dismayed. In a series of interviews with soldiers and diplomats and policy makers who desired nothing more than to fulfill the president’s goal of free and democratic Iraq, Ferguson shows us that a series of disastrous decisions among a closed set of policy-makers—Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Paul Bremer—high-handedly undermined efforts to bring normalcy to Iraq.

Among the most angering moments in the film are clips from Rumsfeld’s press conferences, where the arrogant and preening defense secretary acts as if everything’s under control, while knowledgable people on the scene sadly sit by, knowing that he was literally ruining their chances for success. Over the weekend came reports that even the presidential candidates who are determined to end our involvement in Iraq are resigned to staying there for at least several years. Separately, sources are saying that the administration wants to get rid of Iraqi prime minister Maliki, stating that he is an impediment to peace. If he is, a lot of members of the Bush administration have preceded him in the role.

WONDERING WHO TO ROOT FOR IN FREDERICKSBURG

Fredericksburg, the beautiful Virginia town on the banks of the Rapidan where North and South clashed in December 1862, is also the home of a newspaper called The Free Lance Star, where Ashley Messenger has written an encouraging review of The Coup. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell who to cheer for though, the dopey president, the type-A vice president, or the journalist who thinks she can figure out the real scam, but it almost doesn’t matter. Jamie Malanowski has crafted a witty story from the wreckage of the last two administrations.”

It’s an interesting point Ashley raises about “rooting” for the characters. I know some people are really bothered bynot being able to root for somebody. But I think most people will root for Godwin. (I hope so, anyway; I tried to make him witty and charming and attractive.) But it’s good that readers won’t feel good about it. That’s one of the points of the book–be skeptical of these guys, even the ones you like.

To read the whole review, click here.

THANKS, WASHINGTON POST!

From a review by Louis Bayard in the July 31st edition of the Post:

“Jamie Malanowski’s satirical novel will be required summer reading for C-SPAN watchers, who will happily sniff out the veiled allusions to, oh, Dennis Hastert, Sam Donaldson, Arlen Specter, Michael Beschloss, Peggy Noonan, Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, Matt Drudge and on and on. (Surely, novels like these should start providing indexes.) Fortunately, if the gawkers read a bit more closely, they will also find a knowing dissection of the media-politics nexus. Nobody, to my knowledge, has better nailed the fatuity of the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner: “The media spent 364 days a year actively gunning for Washington’s officials, then on the 365th, everybody on each side put on tuxedos and party dresses and pretended to lavish respect on one another, which they did by pointedly mocking the foibles, errors, and gaffes of the other.”‘

You can read the complete review, in which Louis (no slouch in the writing department himself) can’t stop himself from calling me things like a “knowing” writer, “savvy” observer and “skillful” plotsmith, by clicking here.