Bob Woodward's Latest Novel

woodward and bernstein at white house correspondents dinner

I have no intention of reading Bob Woodward's latest novel Fear, although it's creating quite a stir thanks to several salacious quotes already distributed widely.

Frankly, I'm still behind on Balzac, Dickens, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and such recently deceased moderns as Tom Wolfe and Phillip Roth to have much time for a Woodward.

Oh, but Woodward's book is "journalism," we are told, not a novel.  These are the facts, ma'am.  Or sir.

Or are they?  Is is just bad fiction?

How are we to know?  Like so much of modern "journalism," the book is apparently packed full of unattributed quotes and observations by people supposedly in the know. But the likes of  Secretary of Defense James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly have already come out to deny -- quite emphatically -- they said what Woodward claims they said.

Are the two soldiers lying or is Woodward lying?  Indeed, does Woodward even know if he himself is lying? Someone said something about what somebody said or did to Woodward, who chose to believe that person or persons.  It wouldn't hold up in court -- so again, who knows?  (As a professional screenwriter and novelist, the dialogue seems believable enough, though no one could mistake Woodward for, say, Tom Stoppard.)

So what we have before us, oh book consumer, is another example of the metastasizing "behind the scenes" White House genre (cf. Omarosa and  Michael Wolff) aimed at portraying Donald Tump as erratic, stupid and -- if we are to believe the quote from Kelly -- crazy.

Is he? Obviously, I don't think so, but who am I to say?  I haven't interviewed the man like Woodward h... Oh, wait.

Okay, but I have seen Trump speak up close and personal roughly ten times, during the campaign and after, and umpteen times on television and he doesn't seem dumb or crazy to me.  In fact, he's one of the better extempore speakers I have seen, often quite riveting and frequently amusing.  I think it's no exaggeration to say were our president the host of a late-night show he would destroy his opposition.  (Wouldn't that be an interesting post-presidency?)