Thursday, March 15, 2012

Quick Review

I genuinely look forward to every new book from Thomas Mallon. Not too many contemporary novelists about whom I can say that. What's more, and again to my surprise, Mallon is a writer who has, I think, simply gotten better with each book he's written. Thoughtful, humane and emotionally engrossing, his novels to date have all become easy recommendations to make at the bookstore where I work, and what's more, Mallon's books can be recommended to a great variety of readers without fear of offense or indifference. Hard to name another living American novelist of whom that is true. His nonfiction anthologies, of diaries and letters are quire simply among my favorite books.

And then there's... this. I'm sorry, maybe I'm just old enough to still despise these men, but there is just no way in Hell I am ever going to want to spend time inside the head of E. Howard Hunt. If there was some hope of escape, some suggestion of objectivity or rational perspective, then maybe -- maybe -- I could manage this book. But, alas, it is all assholes, all the time. There is something inexpressibly depressing about any book in which Martha Mitchell is a character to whom one must look forward as the least unsympathetic reptile in the cage.

Couldn't do it. To any who don't remember these villains in the flesh, as it were, I'm sure you can trust Thomas Mallon. He is a skilled and honest writer. But for anyone, like me, who still flinches with disgust at even the hint of Nixonian mendacity in the air, better let CREEPs lie.

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