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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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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