This debut novel by Cox, the political gossipeuse responsible for the popular Wonkette website, takes chick lit from the campaign trail into the blogosphere, with results that make Primary Colors read like Proust.
Meet Melanie Thorton, a voluptuous, 28-year-old Iowa lass who has retained some of her plucky idealism while submerged in a presidential-campaign cesspool. As the communications spinner for the Democratic challenger, she must counter accusations that the stiff, patrician Ivy League candidate (sound familiar?) was brainwashed during his college days, in a manner reminiscent of The Manchurian Candidate. She must also deal with the fallout from her ongoing fling with a very influential political reporter—older, more powerful and married—whose TV program serves to establish the agenda for the week’s Washington dialogue. In her attempt to divert attention toward the failings of the Republican incumbent, a president notorious for his foot-in-mouth malapropisms (sound familiar?), and to deflect scrutiny from her own personal life, she helps concoct an outrageous scheme to occupy the press during the August “dog days” between the two conventions. She and her inevitable gal-pal sidekick, a consultant with greater financial resources and fewer scruples, establish a website for a Capital call girl with a Rolodex filled with big-name Washington players. Once the site captures the media’s attention, the schemers cast a nubile, sexually voracious waitress to embody the role that they’ve been writing for her. Can the scam continue to take the heat off Melanie and her candidate? Will the phony call girl turn on her creators? Is Melanie using her reporter-lover? Or is he using her? Can a writer who has built her reputation on gossip snippets sustain enough narrative momentum and depth of character to make anyone care?
Just call it Bridget Jones Goes to Washington or Sex and the Capital City, though readers hoping for some real-life dirt (or at least a salacious facsimile) will be dealt nothing more than lightweight fluff and throwaway farce.