An anonymous blogger suddenly becomes a serious contender for the American presidency in this satire.
Gary King, an unemployed, pot-smoking journalist, writes a short article extolling the virtues of Common 2 Cents, or C2C, an incognito political blogger, for president. The article was meant as a lark, but it hits a popular nerve and goes viral, transforming C2C into a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in advance of the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. Gary becomes a reluctant celebrity in his own right and decides he has no choice but to discover C2C’s true identity. To that end, he enlists the help of his friend Ginny Evans, a brilliant computer scientist. Meanwhile, the tumult roils Gary’s life, straining his already uncertain relationship with his girlfriend, Amanda. In Magee’s third work of fiction (Darkness All Around, 2011, etc.), he taps into the political turmoil of the day, describing upheavals that closely mirror the current scene. There’s a lackluster Democratic candidate with a virtual lock on the nomination and a divisive Republican one who promiscuously traffics in incendiary, racially charged rhetoric. Ginny deftly captures the disorder of the moment: “The Republican rank and file is just as sick of the status quo as the Democratic rank and file. It’s really a bottom up revolution, especially since there isn’t some hierarchical structure to the whole thing. The cult of personality is so yesterday.” The rise of C2C is as populist as it gets: not only is the blogger’s entire campaign run through free press coverage and social media, but it’s not even officially declared. The most virulent reaction to C2C’s popularity comes from an entrenched establishment desperate to cling to power. Magee has an ear for political satire—besides the clever contemporary parallels, the writing is buoyant and genuinely funny. It’s hard to fully identify with C2C’s ascendancy, though, since so little is revealed about his political principles other than the fact that he’s neither a conventional Republican nor Democrat. The relentless pace of the plot, and the gimlet-eyed gamesomeness, though, should keep the reader well entertained.
A political satire about an unconventional candidate that both thrills and edifies.