Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Books, like men their authors, have no more than one way of coming into the world, but there are ten thousand to go out of it, and return no more.
— Jonathan Swift, A Tale of a Tub, dedication
It’s not the same as learning that just in time for the holiday season, a heretofore-unpublished novel of Dostoyevsky will hit the stores to great excitement and acclaim, but it’s not much less exciting. It’s the news that Sarah Palin’s memoir with the catchy title “Going Rogue: An American Life” will arrive at bookstores on November 17th. Its advent has produced more of a buzz than did the news of Joe the Plumber’s book, earlier this year, with the fetching title of “Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream.”
Joe’s fight began with the utterance of 12 words he spoke when introduced to Presidential Candidate Obama during the 2008 campaign. Those words were: “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?” With that cogent inquiry Joe became an instant hero to the right wing and finally gave John McCain something to talk about. It was, of course, a miracle as great as any in memory, that such an utterance should be considered fighting for the American dream. Until then, Joe’s fighting for the American dream consisted of not paying taxes he owed and practicing plumbing without a license. That redemption could be achieved with such an utterance is indeed proof that in this country incompetence is no bar to success.
Joe’s fight continued after the election when Joe became a correspondent for Pajamas TV. As correspondent he went first to Israel where he reported on what he thought Israel’s response to the proposed cease fire with Hamas would be based on his perceptive conversations with “regular Israelis” (as distinguished from the other kind that more sophisticated reporters rely on). From that assignment he went on to “investigate the Obama stimulus package”, an assignment he completed on February 11. His last appearance for Pajamas appears to be March 3, 2009, probably because he got involved in writing his new book that was published later in the year. (Of course he did not write it himself. He wrote it with the help of someone who was able to put Joe’s few thoughts into words and embellish them to book length.) Sarah Palin’s book is more eagerly awaited than was Joe’s and, if advanced reports are believed, will have considerably more success.
Like Joe, (and unlike Dostoyevsky who did all his own writing and in Russian at that, which Sarah, having lived practically within earshot of Russia would be the first to tell you, is a considerable challenge) Sarah, too, had help. Her co-author was Lynn Vincent who spent the entire summer helping Sarah write her 400-page book. Ms. Vincent has written her own books as well as co—authored books for other public figures who lack the ability to do their own writing. A HarperCollins spokeswoman said the book would be “a memoir of Governor Palin’s life” but refused to discuss the role of Ms. Vincent saying the publisher did not “participate in stories regarding collaborators.” According to Politico, however, Ms. Vincent is “a staunch conservative, devoted evangelical Christian and intensely partisan Republican.” (Her partisanship is well illustrated by a book she wrote entitled “Donkey Cons” which, among other things, describes the Democratic party as “pro-gangster” and the “party of treason and subversion”, descriptions that resonate in the hearts of those who can hardly wait for the Palin book to hit the stores.) Its conception aside, the book promises to be a real boon for booksellers around the country.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal its initial press run will be 1.5 million copies, the same as the first press run of the memoir of another famous American, Edward M. Kennedy published in late September. Retailers are hoping the book will boost the fortunes of booksellers around the country. Edward Ash-Milby, a buyer for Barnes and Noble is quoted in the WSJ as saying that “It’s going to be a No. 1 best seller, the hottest book in the country when it comes out. She has a lot to say and a lot of people will want to hear it.” It is reassuring to learn that Ms. Palin, who was repeatedly stumped by questioners when interviewed during the 2008 campaign, has found a brain and a voice and now has a lot to say. Some were amazed at Joe the Plumber’s popularity with a large segment of the American public when his accomplishments were essentially non-existent. It is even more amazing to think that Sarah Palin’s book will become a best seller. The only question that is left is whether the promised popularity of her book says more about her or about those who buy her book. Readers can reach their own conclusions.