Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Military Secrets - Adam Gopnik on General Petraeus and Philip Roth
As the baffling and then burlesque and then baroquely burlesque affair enveloping General Petraeus and his friends, of both sexes, fell upon us like another hurricane last week, it seemed to confirm once again Philip Roth’s fifty-year-old assertion that you can’t write good satirical fiction in America because reality will quickly outdo anything you might invent. The Petraeus story rapidly expanded, novella-like, into a kind of “Fifty Shades of Khaki.”
First came the news that the hero of the surge had been surging with his biographer, a woman who, as a quick scan of her book-tour appearances suggests, was not only fabulously appealing but also more or less openly italicizing her attachment to the General. Then it came out that she had been sending notes to another female admirer of the General, which were threatening or, perhaps, merely catty.
Then it came out that an F.B.I. agent who admired the second admirer, to whom he had sent a photo of himself shirtless, which may have been meant to entice or may have been entirely wholesome, had sprung to her defense by launching an investigation into the affair, which he leaked to Republican congressmen. Then it came out that a second general, in Afghanistan, had been corresponding with camp follower No. 2 in a way that some people said was “flirtatious.” The national-security establishment suddenly seemed like “Couples” with epaulettes.