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Posted at 4:23 PM ET, 01/18/2011

O No: An Anonymous Obama Novel!

By Alexandra Petri


Anon., Idem, Ibid. and Trad
Wrote much that is morally bad:
Some ballads, some chanties,
All poems on panties --
And limericks, too, one must add.

The authors of some books are anonymous. Others we just wish were anonymous -- Snooki Polizzi's "A Shore Thing" comes to mind. Jane Austen pretended to be Anonymous for a brief time, but dying made it difficult to keep up the charade.

Still, as writers go, Anonymous is more prolific than Steven King -- and a better seller. Anonymous wrote large swaths of the Bible, dozens of limericks, and -- most recently -- O: A Presidential Novel.

At first, I was intrigued by the blurb from the publisher, which notes: "By choosing anonymity, our author is following in the tradition of Jane Austen, the Brontes, The Federalist Papers, The Story of O, and, of course, Lemony Snicket."

This seemed to bode well for the content. Based on the description, I pictured various versions of the novel:

Federalist Papers: Among the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to elect Barack Obama. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice.

Bible: And, lo, he came unto Nebraska, and said he unto them, "Behold, I have come unto ye, yea, even unto Nebraska have I come, to prophesy unto you a new way of hope and change."

Story of O: Something with lots of throbbing elections.

Jane Austen: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single country in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a change candidate.

The Brontes: Basically the same as the Jane Austen section, but better!

Lemony Snicket: "I suppose I'll have to add the force of gravity to my list of enemies," said Barack Obama.

But then the publicist Jonathan Carp sent out a mass e-mail message. It read: "The author of the novel wishes to remain anonymous. You may be asked to comment on whether or not you are the author. If so, it would be great if you refrained from commenting."

I wondered at his plaintive tone. But then I saw the excerpts.

There are only six. If these are uniquely compelling passages, I can't imagine what the low points are like. Maybe there is no writing on those pages and instead the anonymous author shows up at your home and beats you with a blunt instrument.

There are several reasons a book's author can be anonymous: safety, intrigue, divine intervention. But one of the most common is the literary equivalent of wanting to wear a brown paper bag on your head when you and the book go out in public together. This is why most romance novels are written by pseudonyms with names like Rip N. Bodices or Mocha Trenta Latte. A signed copy of this book would have no value unless it were signed by someone who was definitely not the author, because that would be a guarantee that the person might have a modicum of literary talent.

After reading all six excerpts, I have to confess that since the Bible and the works of Jane Austen, Anonymous seems to have lost a lot of his groove. True, these days, his writing is mostly limited to likening marriage to a seashell or wheelbarrow on Hallmark cards. So it's understandable. But it's still sad.

Need proof? Here are some quotations:

"Christ, he was desperate for a few unbothered hours; turn his mind off for a bit; hit some golf balls. A few drives off the practice tee and some chipping and putting were as close as he could get to playing eighteen these days."

"No muscles. He wore clown clothes. No tan. But he did have one major thing going for him. He was here."

"After all that grief he had taken last fall, staff had managed to make him feel guilty about it. It was too much to ask for a few hours outdoors on the weekend, the only time he felt normal, out of the bubble."

"He wouldn't overload the system as he had done in his first term. But he wouldn't play small ball either."

The worst part? One of those excerpts was actually from Snooki's book. Could you tell?

By Alexandra Petri  | January 18, 2011; 4:23 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama, Petri, Seems Suspect, Worst Things Ever  | Tags:  Barack Obama, anonymous, books  
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I think I'll skip anon's book and check out Snooki's. None of those quotes hold a candle to this one by the Snook:

"Gia danced around a little, shaking her peaches for show. She shook it hard. Too hard. In the middle of a shimmy, her stomach cramped. A fart slipped out. A loud one. And stinky."

Posted by: divtune | January 19, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

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