Saturday, January 08, 2005

I realize

that this griping about the NYTBR is quite pointless--and I don't disagree with the idea that they should review "popular" fiction--but I can't believe they gave a full page to Alan Dershowitz writing about John Grisham's latest! It includes a description of Richard North Patterson as "our best contemporary political novelist"...?!?!?

The full review is here, and this is the paragraph that just blew my mind: "There are few writers today capable of producing political novels of the quality of those once written by C. P. Snow and Alan Drury. Our best contemporary political novelist, Richard North Patterson, spends months interviewing the politicians upon whom he loosely bases his characters. He also masters the political issues he writes about -- abortion, gun control, capital punishment. Compared with Patterson's likelife presidents, senators, congressmen and lobbyists, Grisham's political characters are stick figures -- entirely predictable stereotypes without flesh and blood."


  1. That's what I get for skim-reading, as I totally missed that gem. Although if you want a copy of RNP's next book, I got one...

  2. Thanks, but no thanks!

    Actually in a way Dershowitz's piece was rather sweet--at least he's not just being all facetious, which I appreciate. Isn't that a hilarious quote, though? It's like calling Nicholas Sparks "our most profound contemporary writer on love" or Tom Clancy "our most powerful contemporary novelist of the technological"....

  3. Drury's _Advise and Consent_ is a great book about the Senate and Washington in its time (Drury covered the Senate for many years). (Otto Preminger made an interesting movie of it.)

    The sequel, _A Shade of Difference_ isn't bad, either (a lot of it is about the UN, with Drury making the Secretary General an African decades before there was one), but his later novels, _Capable of Honor_ and _Preserve and Protect_ and the rest, become ultra-right-wing screeds with cardboard characters (i.e., a network anchorman named Frankly Unctuous)and laser beam death rays.

    I doubt anyone reads Drury today.

  4. Thanks for that information. I must confess that I had never heard of Drury! I would have thought of naming more obviously canonical political novels (All the King's Men, for instance), but I guess AD had his mind on federal politics, not state or city. It does seem that the best American novels about politics are more likely to focus on the local than the national--I'd count someone like Richard Price as writing political novels, really.