Feature

How to read a sexy novel based on Laura Bush

Is steamy fiction about a first lady scandalous, or enlightening?

What happened
Best-selling author Curtis Sittenfeld’s next book, American Wife, is a steamy and thinly veiled novel based on Laura Bush. The book, which will be published by Random House, is scheduled to be released in the fall, around the time of the Republican convention. (Radar Online, includes excerpts)

What the commentators said
Is it just me, said Sacha Zimmerman in The New Republic’s The Plank blog, or is a book imagining the first lady’s sex life a bit “tawdry and gimmicky”? Americans don't really need to read “bone-chilling” passages about how quiet librarian Alice Blackwell, the fictionalized Laura Bush, describes her first sexual encounter with her husband, Charlie.

The exerpts published by Radar are “scandalous,” said Amanda Carpenter in Townhall.com. And the timing of the September release, “smack” in the middle of the GOP convention, is certainly suspicious. No wonder Radar speculates that the book will “send the White House into a fury.”

Relax, people, it’s fiction, said Maureen Dowd in The New York Times. Laura Bush is a fascinating person—a quiet librarian, shaken at 17 as the driver in an accident that killed a classmate, who married a future president. Like it or not, fiction is the “only vessel that can ferry you past Laura’s moat,” and give you a hint of “what lies behind that placid facade of the first lady.”

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