Monday, May 28, 2012

Fun with David Frum

I'm just loving my new relationship with Net Galley! You get to browse through titles that will be coming out within the next 6 months or so and "request" a digital copy from the publisher. Naturally publishers want to get these galleys into the hands of as many folks as possible - especially folks who may be able to influence readers - so they seldom turn you down. That's how I came to be reading David Frum's Patriots while I was on vacation.

Political junkies, get on your library's website and grab up a copy of this book. It is a kick! I knew the name David Frum through past political reading but I decided to wait until I'd read his book before I investigated his background too thoroughly. I didn't want to prejudice myself against the novel if he was a right wing nut - or is that a wingnut? I did know that he had worked in the Bush administration but decided to forgive him for that transgression. So glad I did.

Patriots is a clever political satire that skewers both sides equally while also providing readers with some characters you can really care for. The time frame is the near future and our country's first black president of the "nationalist" party has been defeated by a strict "constitutionalist." (think Tea Party) Outrageous amounts of money have been spent - surprise - to aid and abet the election of Pulaski, a wounded veteran of the new Mexican war that our country has been engaged in.

To win this election, General Pulaski had to pander to the rightest wing of the party, but now that he's ensconced in the White House, he wants to govern from the center and his supporters aren't having it. The complicated back room deals, promises made for cash infusions or vote support in the house and senate, are absolutely accurate, you just know it! Frum's time in Washington was not wasted and the details of the hang outs, the food, the booze, the parties is over the top perfect.

 Readers in the know will have so much fun trying to correlate each fictional character to his or her real counterpart. The description of the Patriot News TV station (Fox) and the Glen Beck clone with his phony professor's glasses is an absolute laugh-out-loud hoot. The Occupy Wall Street movement becomes the Truckers for America coalition and the big rigs roll into DC turning the city upside down.

At the heart of the story is Walter, a naive, unambitious young man, heir to a mustard fortune, who's involved with Valerie, a hot, go-getter, who wants to mold her man into one she can be proud of. With some help from the family matriarch, Walter lands a low rung position as assistant to Senator Hazen from Rhode Island, home of corporate headquarters for Schotzke mustard. One hand does, indeed, wash the other.

It's a joy to watch the neophyte Walter grow close to and learn from Senator Hazen while, at the same time, he's courted by the opposition team for a stand he never really took - everything in Washington is staged says Frum and, sadly, this is likely true. Valerie and Walter are used by others for their own political ends as well but you keep hoping that they'll rise above the fray.

I really enjoyed this book but then, my readers know that I am the ultimate political junkie. I appreciate that David Frum had the integrity to paint the politicians in his novel as equally flawed, well, some a little more so than others, but most truly working in the way they believe is best for the country. It's just that sometimes the end doesn't justify the means and, in a democracy, we all have to wait our turn to have our say.

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