Bookmarks: Jihadi hairstyles and bonking Hemingway
A fortnightly look at books, writers and reviews
The Trump presidency has spawned a minor publishing boom. We’ve had tell-alls and behind-the-scenes exposures, the most recent being Crime in Progress: The Secret History of the Trump-Russia Investigation by Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch (Allen Lane), Inside Trump’s White House by Doug Wead (Biteback), and A Warning by Anonymous (Little, Brown). Underlying all such titles is the conviction that the 45th president of the US is an unabashed moron.
And thereby hangs a problem: is satire possible, or even useful, with Donald Trump? There is much low-hanging fruit here – the tiny hands, the orange skin, the “hair”, the misogyny, the narcissism, the lying, the stupidity – and yet previous attempts at parody have failed because Trump is parody-proof. He is, simply, beyond a joke – as the British writer Howard Jacobson found when he rushed into publication his 2017 novella, Pussy (Jonathan Cape).
All the Swiftian elements were there: Jacobson’s central character is, according to the bumf, “Prince Fracassus, heir presumptive to the Duchy of Origen, famed for its golden-gated skyscrapers and casinos, who passes his boyhood watching reality shows on TV, imagining himself to be the Roman Emperor Nero, and fantasising about hookers. He is idle, boastful, thin-skinned and egotistic; has no manners, no curiosity, no knowledge, no idea and no words in which to express them. Could he, in that case, be the very leader to make the country great again?”..