FAMILY POLITICS by John Buckley

FAMILY POLITICS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Two branches of a celebrated American family slug it out in a no-holds-barred primary campaign, in this debut from a political insider. The Daleys have made the covers of Time, Life, and Sports Illustrated; they have appeared on 60 Minutes and Donahue. They are known for ""their steamer trunk full of peccadilloes"" as much as for the family business, Daley Motorworks, manufacturers of that ""ultimate American status symbol,"" the Lazzy sports car. So when 35-year-old multimillionaire Edward Daley challenges his uncle Nate Stanton (three-term US senator from New York) in a Republican primary, it's big news. (The motivation behind the cipher-like Edward's run--though partly ideological, since he is far to the right of his uncle--is never clearly established; this makes for a hole at the center.) His kid brother Charles, the narrator, comes on board as his campaign manager. The strategy is to ""carpet bomb"" Uncle Nate with negative advertising; the Stantons respond by letting Blake, a psychotic cousin, cut the throat of Charles' dog Fido so famous for its TV commercials that Walter Cronkite delivers the eulogy. Appropriately, Tricky Dick Nixon himself, in a phone call before the Big Debate, gives Edward the wherewithal to skewer his uncle. The hurly-burly of the campaign trail alternates with the hurly-burly of family life, as the enormous Daley clan cavorts across the landscape; typically, Edward's victory over his uncle is obscured by a showdown with Blake, involving guns and a helicopter, on the family estate in Connecticut. In essence, this overwritten, underplotted and self-absorbed novel is a witless serenade to a celebrity-smitten culture; it is not really about politics, or even the partying rich, so much as their reflections, in print, on television, in the paparazzi's lights. It is no fun at all.

Pub Date: June 27th, 1988
Publisher: Simon & Schuster