Well-written and nuanced, this work illuminates the Lewinsky scandal and provides valuable insights into the Clintons’...

The Clinton Diaries

In a fictional diary, President Bill Clinton recounts and ruminates about his notorious affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Petrovsky (If Only for Love, 2013, etc.) plumbs President Clinton’s innermost thoughts during the Lewinsky affair and the scandal, impeachment, and Senate trial that followed. After spotting Lewinsky in 1995, Clinton attends a staffer’s birthday party as a pretext to see the young intern again. “Besides, there’d certainly be some cake,” Clinton adds. Lewinsky hikes up her dress and flashes her thong at him. Pursuing her, he’s bothered by his “historical levels of hypocrisy” and thinks of himself as “nothing but a dirty old man trying to get his dick wet while the world burned.” Nevertheless, with the aid of his secretary, Clinton takes Lewinsky into the Oval Office, where they engage in oral sex—although Clinton rationalizes that it isn’t really sex. Smoothing things over with his suspicious, cold, and calculating wife, Hillary, whom he partly blames for his numerous trysts with other women, the president fantasizes about Lewinsky during government meetings and masturbates while on the phone with her. When the Washington Post exposes the affair, Clinton lies to Hillary and convinces her that the report is false. Things fall apart during the Kenneth W. Starr investigation, however, and Clinton undergoes a humiliating blood test that proves he had sex with Lewinsky, thanks to her famous blue dress with his semen stains. After undergoing marriage counseling and surviving impeachment, Clinton concludes that the episode will eventually be forgotten, and Hillary decides to run for public office. Petrovsky delivers an evenhanded account of the sensational and controversial affair that mesmerized the nation for months but is now practically ignored. The book contains dashes of humor mixed with pathos, gives a very human portrait of Clinton, and explores the all-too-human insecurities and demons that may have driven him to his aberrant behavior in office. Further, it suggests how Clinton (along with the rest of the populace) may delude himself as well as others through lies that rationalize even the most outrageous behavior. It’s a timely revisiting of a tacky and tawdry moment in U.S. presidential history that would be tragic if it weren’t so banal and farcical.

Well-written and nuanced, this work illuminates the Lewinsky scandal and provides valuable insights into the Clintons’ personalities as they attempt to retake the White House.

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4382-1564-8

Page Count: 206

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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