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Behind The Fiction, Past
A Fiction Column
By Michael G'Francisco


POLITICAL FICTION

The year 2012 could well be the most controversial time in our country’s political history. So, let’s begin with Gideon Rachman’s statement in his FT.com blog: “Fiction is a route to political truth”.

The boundaries of Political Fiction are definitely a challenge, which makes it quite hard to delimit. When columnists and novelists explore the promises expressed in campaign speeches by the people running for an elected office, they often find themselves trying to define what is being said. The politician’s lack of knowledge on subjects usually is quite evident and is filled with partial facts and a sprinkling of fiction.

Politicians, generally in their campaign speeches, use satire, fables and quotes from past presidents. Political speechwriters are word architects, and create them to be used likened to a polished razor that delivers a keen wound that’s scarcely felt or seen. This directly criticizes their audiences unknowingly, or it can present, or often embrace, another genre, Political Fantasy (A fiction created by political speechwriters that takes place in a fabricated world).

As a political observer and writer, it never ceases to amaze me of the lies, promises, and rhetoric that politicians from both parties relate to their audiences during campaigning at election time. Most of their speechwriters do not keep them informed on current events, which are or have occurred around the globe. Their abilities to read from a pre-written speech, in front of an audience or during a candidate debate, about different subjects are “off the wall” and contain mostly their party’s rhetoric.

If you want to prepare yourself for the political beguiles of this coming campaign year, I suggest reading:

DEMOCRACY, An American Novel (1880) by Henry Brooks Adams. This novel is a commentary about political corruption and does not portray any of its characters in a positive light. Yet, it was supposedly based on the careers of certain political figures in Maine.

 

  ALL THE KINGS MEN (1946) by Robert Penn Warren. It’s set in the mid 1930’s, and portrays the dramatic rise and fall of a fictional political figure named, Willie Stark. Stark campaigns his way throughout the state of Louisiana and becomes its governor. His political strong-arm tactics gain him many enemies and cause his dismiss by being shot to death on the steps of the state capital building.

 

AMERICAN WIFE (2008) by Curtis Sittenfeld. The novel is a political satire, and believed to be loosely based on the life of Laura Bush. It depicts a quiet, well-read woman with compassion for the world around her. Her marriage to an aggressive militant president-husband, who gets the nation into a very controversial war, gently pushes her into a compassionate agenda of helping needy people around the globe.

If the above novels tickle your taste for political satire, then maybe you’re ready for an intricate law-and-politic-laced-crime fiction series. I suggest reading the following novels that reflect today’s greed for political power and crime: Kerry Kilcannon Political Fiction Trilogy by Richard North Patterson.

NO SAFE PLACE (1999) reflects a nation’s unpopular views about domestic violence, gun control and women’s rights during a campaign run for the presidency.

PROTECT AND DEFEND (2000) In this novel Patterson gives the reader a resounding clash of competing ambitions between the president and the majority leader. BALANCE OF POWER (2004) Within the papers of this novel, Patterson gets to the nitty-gritty of dirty politics and exposes the insidious ways money corrodes democracy and corrupts elected officials.


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