Saturday, October 08, 2011

Book Shelf: THE ROGUE By Joe McGinniss

Unlike some people, I thought it would be a good idea to actually read The Rogue before commenting upon it. It's unfortunate that a lot of coverage of the book merely trots out bullet points OF NEW FUNNY/OUTRAGEOUS REVELATIONS!! rather than taking a look at it as an organic whole, because there's a lot more to McGinniss' excellent volume than a simple laundry list of Sarahisms. Indeed, it's the overall structure of the book which makes it such an entertaining and fascinating read. The author skillfully interweaves two stories: the tale of Sarah Palin's life and career, and the personal narrative of his own journey to Alaska to research her alarming rise to prominence, his encounters with those who know/knew her, with the land itself, and, of course, the trumped-up media circus which surrounded his renting of the house next-door to the Palin's lakeside compound. One of the most delicious ironies in The Rogue is that the hysterical reaction to McGinniss' journey to Alaska from the Palins themselves, their deranged fans, and even the well-meaning locals who defy Palin to assist the author (in a hilarious running gag, they keep offering him guns: "Take all you want; I've got plenty!"), provided him with just the structure he needed to tie the whole thing together seamlessly. Perhaps a better subtitle for the volume would have been "Beneath the Valley of the Assembly of God," because it's not just a portrait of a person, but of a place, a place which Sarah Palin succeeded in single-handedly dividing and conquering.

I guess my main point is that Joe McGinniss is an outstanding writer, so if you think you "already know all about Sarah Palin"  due to all the spoilers and laundry lists of funny stories from the book here and there on the web, you're missing out on an absorbing and entertaining book. But beyond that, the author really succeeds in answering the question what makes Sarah Palin? in a fully-rounded way, taking a sharp look at how the state, the landscape (both physical and political), her family and friends, religion, and a fairly shocking case of arrested development all worked together to produce her, a quintessentially American story if there ever was one. Highly recommended!


Glennis said...

Thinking about ordering it. I didn't like the cover, I didn't like the thing he did with releasing the Bailey book manuscript, but in the long run, I think I want to read it and give the guy a sale.

Diane Griffin said...

You've got me wanting to read this now. When I get through the huge pile of things I need to get through for my thesis, this will likely be at the top of my list!

Lulu Maude said...

Thanks for the heads-up. Nicely written, too.

There's been so much about the unsubstantiated blah blah that I haven't sought it ought. Don't know if my boss is going to buy it.

But Sarah is so sleazy that the fun of her lines in her character, or lack thereof. She has certainly worked the system in her favor, all because Really Classy Guys like Roger Ailes and Bill Kristol think she's Hot.

Beware the erection forming under gabardines.

Anonymous said...

McGinness may be a good writer, but he's a terrible person. Don't take my word for it; just ask fellow terrible person Jeff MacDonald:

"In June 1979, MacDonald chose Joe McGinniss to write a book about the case. He was given full access to MacDonald and the defense during the trial. MacDonald expected that the book would be about his innocence in the murders of his family. However, McGinniss' book, Fatal Vision, first published in the spring of 1984, portrayed MacDonald as a sociopath who was indeed guilty of killing his family....MacDonald subsequently sued McGinniss in 1987 for fraud, claiming that McGinniss pretended to believe MacDonald innocent after he came to the conclusion that MacDonald was guilty, in order to continue MacDonald's cooperation with him. After a trial, which resulted in a mistrial on August 21, 1987, McGinniss and MacDonald settled out of court for $325,000 on November 23, 1987." [from Wikipedia]