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True Lies

A gathering of (deliberate) election-year fictions.


Sammy’s Hill
By Kristin Gore (Miramax; $23.95; September).
Plot: Twenty-six-year-old Senate aide Samantha Joyce labors earnestly (really earnestly) to enact meaningful health-care reform while wrestling with wacky chick-lit dating dilemmas.
Political Leanings: Kerry—and definitely anti-Bush, given that the incumbent beat out the author’s dad for the presidency.
Hard-won Wisdom: “I’d never thought [a newspaper editor] would back down from a fight for a better way.... Had I just been naïve? What was going on?”
Unintended Consequences: Laborious prose may turn liberal readers into Republicans.

Political Animal
By David Mizner (Soho Press; $24; September).
Plot: Successful yet terminally jaded speechwriter-for-hire Ben Bergin finds himself forced to take a principled stand during a congressional reelection campaign. Loses job, finds love.
Political Leanings: Kerry, shading toward McCain.
Hard-won Wisdom: “Big-time politics is a self-selecting business. Those who win tend to be pathologically ambitious and self-important. To them victory itself feels like a moral imperative, the principle that trumps all others.”
Unintended Consequences: Bad sex scenes (“I put my fingers where they belong, and her body responds with a tremble”) could drive a new generation of attractive young people away from public service.

Florence of Arabia
By Christopher Buckley (Random House; $24.95; September).
Plot: Deputy Assistant Secretary of Mideast Affairs Florence Farfaletti is dispatched to a fictional Arab emirate to promote gender equality via a subversive lineup of entertainment-TV broadcasts.
Political Leanings: Bush; Buckley is as faithful to Dad as Kristin Gore is.
Hard-won Wisdom: “In Washington, you know how tall you stand by how low the other person is willing to stoop.”
Unintended Consequences: Overbroad satirical gimmicks and lots of cheap shots at the French make Michael Moore and Al Franken seem subdued.

The Librarian
By Larry Beinhart (Nation Books; paperback, $15.95).
Plot: Hapless university librarian David Goldberg stumbles into a billionaire’s plot to steal the presidency for a candidate bearing a suspicious resemblance to the present Oval Office incumbent.
Political Leanings: Kerry, shockingly enough.
Hard-won Wisdom: “America was becoming Paraguay, but not that fast. Gore Vidal said that, a long time ago, back when he was explaining why Ronald Reagan could never be elected president.”
Unintended Consequences: Beinhart, whose earlier conspiracy yarn American Hero was famously adapted into the movie Wag the Dog, may lend credence to the meme of the “loony left.”


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