Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rob Recommends The Columnist

A novel in the form of a memoir of an extremely obnoxious a##h##e. I’m guessing it’s harder than we think:  to have the narrator prove his arrogance in almost every paragraph yet be oblivious to how his audience is judging him. And this is what makes The Columnist a fun read—catching every self-serving rationalization, every twist of a knife told as stroke of fortune and every conceited deceit disguised as innocent miscommunication. And the story itself? We follow the career of Brandon Sladder from novice (but self-inflated, nevertheless) reporter to influential (yes, and still self-inflated) columnist and opinion-maker. Along the way Sladder uses all who would befriend him—girlfriends, editors, secretaries, prostitutes and sources—dumping them when they were no longer needed. The author works real people into the plot, but never makes it explicit just which (if any) big shot columnist Sladder is modeled on. (The play based on the book does name Joseph Alsop as the satirical target.)  Those old enough to remember the heyday of the Lippmans, Alsops, Restons, Pearsons of the last century will especially enjoy this book.

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