The American Political Novel

I just finished a novel about a man who discovers hyperactive Viagra 100 years ago, and uses it to extract semen from the world’s great men, for the purposes of selling it to desperate child-seeking women. This was written by an Englishman; methinks an American would have gotten all scientific about it. Christopher Lehmann also believes we are incapable of good political fiction:

What’s more, this stubborn moralizing impulse is what makes American political fiction, even today, such watery and unsatisfying literature: It deprives writers of the best material. Don’t the intrigues sprouting from our well-known human flaws and excesses ultimately make for more engaging plots and character studies than the falls from grace of a thousand or so Washington ingenus? You can consult any of the scores of wiser, better-written European novels of politics–Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed, Ignazio Silone’s Bread and Wine, Stendhal’s The Charterhouse of Parma, Gunter Grass’s Dog Years, Joseph Roth’s The Spider’s Web, to name but a few–and see how much richer and more nuanced political fiction can be.

He didn’t enjoy Thank You For Smoking, which I rather liked. But the point is well taken.

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