Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Fiction - Taft 2012 by Jason Heller
Date: January 17, 2012
Acquired: from the publisher
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book in return for an honest review.)
Reading time: four days
From GoodReads: He is the perfect presidential candidate. Conservatives love his hard-hitting Republican résumé. Liberals love his peaceful, progressive practicality. The media can’t get enough of his larger-than-life personality. And all the American people love that he’s an honest, hard-working man who tells it like it is.
There’s just one problem. He is William Howard Taft . . . and he was already president a hundred years ago. So what on earth is he doing alive and well and considering a running mate in 2012?
A most extraordinary satire, Jason Heller’s debut novel follows the strange new life of a presidential Rip Van Winkle: a man who never even wanted the White House in the first place, yet finds himself hurtling toward it once more—this time, through the media-fueled madness of 21st-century America.
My review: Even my rather conservative mother agrees that Taft 2012 is hilarious! (Actually, she read it in one day - an unheard-of feat for her - while it took me four.) Heller's satire is light-hearted, great for those of us who, like me, don't quite 'get' politics in the first place. I was very pleased that the author attacks American society and government as a whole, not specific people. He could have said a lot about Obama, but the name is never even explicitly said. Aside from a few details, the current president and any other key figures in the book could be just about anyone.
I also enjoyed the fact that Taft 2012 is not just about politics, but also about the media and part of America's food supply. William Howard Taft's discovery of such inventions as Twitter and some of the nastier of processed foods ("Didn't Teddy Roosevelt pass an act against this stuff a century ago?") are too good to put down. Though, I must say, I felt sorry for Taft at a few points. One hundred years after the presidency he never really wanted, he's resurrected to run again - and all America thinks about is his enormous appetite, wide girth, and signature mustache.