WHAT THE L? by Kate Clinton


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Lesbian comic Clinton (Don’t Get Me Started, 1998, etc.) riffs on everything from SpongeBob SquarePants to the Supreme Court in this ultra-wry collection of columns and short essays.

Rushing in where Ellen fears to tread—on people’s toes—the author sets her sights (as in crosshairs) on everyone across the political spectrum. Clinton’s smart, stream-of-consciousness rants, covering 1999 to early 2005, take on among many other targets the “Commando in Chief,” not forgetting to throw in a few pop-culture references along the way. For example, she ties W’s “global gag rule on contraceptive education worldwide” to the movie Resident Evil. Sometimes these combinations work, and sometimes they don’t. When within a paragraph or two Clinton flits from drag queens to the Vatican to Martina Navratilova to Planet of the Apes, readers may have their own “What the L?” moment. Of course, she not only sticks it to “George Duh,” but to his people and policy. On the Patriot Act, she remarks, “the sound you hear is the shredders chewing up the fourth amendment,” and Condoleeza’s fix for global warming, quips Clinton, is manufacturing a cold war. Sometimes nicknames alone serve as political commentary: Ken “Jean Valjean” Starr, “Roy Cohn’s lovechild” (Ari Fleischer) and “the Roy G. Biv of terror” (Tom Ridge). She tackles WMD, Social Security and Homeland Security, but naturally Clinton gets much mileage out of gay marriage, aka “mad vow disease,” complaining that “one of the cool things about being gay was that you didn’t have to get married.” She ultimately decides she’ll fight for others to be “gay married,” however, and even gets ordained as a minister of the Universal Life Church. Some of the more pop culture–focused writings would work better in her stand-up routine, where bad puns about Viagra and “Bush fatigue” might be funnier after a cocktail.

Veers wildly among topics, but covers recent political history and gay rights issues with rapid-fire, sometimes blessedly cathartic humor.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-7867-1544-8
Page count: 220pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2005