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Dogfight: The 2012 Presidential Campaign in Verse

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Overview

In his latest laugh-out-loud book of political verse, Calvin Trillin provides a riotous depiction of the 2012 presidential election campaign.
 
Dogfight is a narrative poem interrupted regularly by other poems and occasionally by what the author calls a pause for prose (?Callista Gingrich, Aware That Her Husband Has Cheated On and Then Left Two Wives Who Had Serious Illnesses, Tries Desperately to Make Light of a Bad Cough?). With the same...
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Dogfight: The 2012 Presidential Campaign in Verse

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Overview

In his latest laugh-out-loud book of political verse, Calvin Trillin provides a riotous depiction of the 2012 presidential election campaign.
 
Dogfight is a narrative poem interrupted regularly by other poems and occasionally by what the author calls a pause for prose (“Callista Gingrich, Aware That Her Husband Has Cheated On and Then Left Two Wives Who Had Serious Illnesses, Tries Desperately to Make Light of a Bad Cough”). With the same barbed wit he displayed in the bestsellers Deciding the Next Decider, Obliviously On He Sails, and A Heckuva Job, America’s deadline poet trains his sights on the Tea Party (“These folks were quick to vocally condemn/All handouts but the ones that went to them”) and the slapstick field of contenders for the Republican nomination (“Though first-tier candidates were mostly out,/Republicans were asking, “What about/The second tier or what about the third?/Has nothing from those other tiers been heard?”). There is an ode to Michele Bachmann, sung to the tune of a Beatles classic (“Michele, our belle/Thinks that gays will all be sent to hell”) and passages on the exit of candidates like Herman Cain (“Although his patter in debates could tickle,/Cain’s pool of knowledge seemed less pool than trickle”) and Rick Santorum (“The race will miss the purity/That you alone endow./We’ll never find another man/Who’s holier than thou.”)
 
On its way to the November 6 finale, Trillin’s narrative takes us through such highlights as the January caucuses in frigid Iowa (“To listen to long speeches is your duty,/And getting there could freeze off your patootie”), the Republican convention (“It seemed like Clint, his chair, and their vignette/Had wandered in from some adjoining set”), and Mitt Romney’s secretly recorded “47 percent” speech, which inspired the “I Got the Mitt Thinks I’m a Moocher, a Taker not a Maker, Blues.”
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

In 2008, Calvin Trillin courted election watchers with the witty political verse of Deciding the Decider. That collection earned bipartisan plaudits, but it is no match for Dog Fight, his poetic reprise of the 2012 presidential race. We're not questioning The Nation poet laureate's versifying ability in the earlier book; we're simply noting that for sheer surrealism; the 2012 campaign has been a nonstop festival of zingers, bloopers, and surprises. Trillin captures it all in humorous poems that will convince losers and winners that it was worth it after all.

Library Journal
Never mind the title's poetry reference; this is Trillin, so of course it's humor. The Nation's Deadline Poet deals wittily with the upcoming election, assaying not just Obama and Mitt but Newt, Santorum, and the rest while scanning Tea Party tactics, Obamacare vs. Romneycare, and bad moments on live television. With a 50,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews
Longtime New Yorker staff writer Trillin (Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff, 2011) puts his patented poetic spin on the 2012 presidential election. Again exercising an uncanny knack for producing poetical discourse on the political playing field, Trillin (Deciding the Next Decade: The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme, 2008) offers pithy ruminations and droll observations on the Obama-Romney race. He justifies the canine-inspired title with a short opening rhyme comparing Romney's 1983 road-tripping vacation with pet Irish setter Seamus strapped to the roof of the family car to Obama's Indonesian boyhood when he sampled dog meat. Sprinkled in between Trillin's play-by-play analyses of both campaigns are encapsulated poems borne from media headlines. These snarky, bite-sized morsels skewer the likes of Senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell ("Until you came along one day, old witchcraft jokes had been passé"), Rick Perry ("with even more impressive hair than Kerry"), "holier than thou" Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich ("a crafty wheeler-dealer. His baggage, though, would fill an eighteen-wheeler") and Donald Trump ("once he's had his say…and say…and say, he, blessedly, will finally go away.") Not all the couplets and cadences churn smoothly; a few clunkers feel overly trivial and forced, as if the author became bored with the political semantics. As a collective work of creative nonfiction, his harmlessly sarcastic poetry is skilled, and the book will serve as a good complement to Elinor Lipman's uniformly clever election-season poem-a-day chronicle, Tweet Land of Liberty (2012). An easy, breezy, pocket-sized slice of political humor.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812993684
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/20/2012
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 356,939
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 7.12 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

A longtime staff writer at The New Yorker, Calvin Trillin is also The Nation’s deadline poet, at a fee he has been complaining about since 1990. His acclaimed books range from the memoir About Alice to Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff. He lives in New York.

Biography

As a religion reporter, Calvin Trillin showed himself as something of a Doubting Thomas.

He was working for Time in the 1960s, and he didn't much like his assigned beat. So, he turned to one of the standard tricks of a good reporter: He hedged. "I finally got out of that by prefacing everything with 'alleged,' " he told Publishers Weekly. "I'd write about 'the alleged parting of the Red Sea,' even 'the alleged Crucifixion,' and eventually they let me go."

Fans of Trillin's writing -- his snapshots of ordinary U.S. life for The New Yorker, his political poetry in the Nation, his search for the ideal meal with his wife good-naturedly in tow -- will recognize his style in this early exercise in subversion. He is warm, gentle, and human, but there can be a dash of mischievousness for taste. Even the unwelcome sight of a brussels sprout at a buffet provoked his ire. Turning to his wife, he said, "The English have a lot to answer for."

Humorist Mark Russell took note in the pages of The New York Times in 1987: "Mark Twain, Robert Benchley and [S. J.] Perelman are dead, but Calvin Trillin is right there with the post-funeral cocktail to assure us that life goes on."

Born in Kansas City but transplanted to the West Village of New York City, Trillin has kept in touch with his midwestern roots for much of his writing. A collection of articles from The New Yorker on so-called ordinary murders from around the country became the book Killings, called by The Wall Street Journal "one of the most low-key, dispassionate, matter-of-fact books on murder ever produced."

In its review, the Los Angeles Times said: "He may be The New Yorker's finest stylist, and his writing is quite different from the careful accretion of detail that characterizes much of the magazine's writing. Trillin omits as much as he possibly can; he leaves spaces for resonating, like a guitar string stopped and kept mute to sound the overtone from the next string down."

In Travels with Alice he writes of looking for hamburgers on the Champs Elysées in Paris. Even in a classic New York story, Tepper Isn't Going Out, he writes not of theater or restaurants or even a rent-controlled apartment equidistant between Zabar's and Central Park. Instead he seeks out deeper pleasures: finding the perfect parking space, and holding onto it.

Humor is a Trillin trademark. He began writing a humor column for The Nation in the late 1970s called Uncivil Liberties that became two book collections. In 1980, The New York Times chuckled gratefully at his first novel, writing that "the antics around the nameless news magazine in...Floater are as funny as The Front Page and as absurd as playground pranks."

In 1990, he began treating Nation readers to a new column, a weekly spot of verse on the political hijinks of the day, pieces with names like "If You Knew What Sununu." This, too, became a book, The Deadline Poet: My Life as a Doggerelist. He even shares insights into the creative process: "A fool is fine. A pompous fool's sublime. / It also helps if they have names that rhyme."

Trillin's résumé has a sense of elasticity: journalist, novelist, humorist, satirist, poet. But there is a commonality to his work: It's approachable. And The Washington Post's Jonathan Yardley points out that, for a journalist, this may be the toughest feat of all.

"Calvin Trillin is like an old shoe," he wrote in a 1998 review of Trillin's Family Man. "Whatever he may be writing about, he always makes you want to slip into it and get comfy. This may seem like a modest compliment, but it is a high one indeed. Few tricks are more difficult for the journalist to pull off than being consistently likable and engaging, making oneself and one's little world interesting and appealing to others."

Good To Know

Growing up in Kansas City, Calvin Marshall Trillin was known as Buddy.

The family name was originally Trilinsky.

He staged two one-man shows showcasing his humor in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Calvin Marshall Trillin (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 5, 1935
    2. Place of Birth:
      Kansas City, Missouri
    1. Education:
      B.A., Yale University, 1957

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 25 )
Rating Distribution

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(12)

4 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2012

    SUCKS

    Sucks

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2012

    Great book, well done! Very funny, and sadly, very true. PS to t

    Great book, well done! Very funny, and sadly, very true. PS to those who did not realize it all rhymes
    - that is what the title words "IN VERSE" means.The fault is in you, not in the book!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2012

    I did not read the book yet, but, after reading the Overview, it

    I did not read the book yet, but, after reading the Overview, it seems to be very biased against the Right. I would love to find something written on 2012 that isn't slanted to Obama-bootlooking or conversely, Tea Party Right.
    ...and every sentence rhymes? Yuck!

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

    Ugggg

    Saw him on john stewart and bought the book not knowing that every sentence rhymes. Very annoying. I gave up in the first chapter. I think this book is for a very narrow audience. I should have read the preview first.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2012

    Its cool

    Its cool

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2014

    Funny

    Yes its left leaning but its also got some facts that show how dumb the right can be. Its not like there are no right leaning books out there. Also if you cant deal with reading in rhyme how can you be intelligent enough to read at all?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2013

    Nightshade

    My wifi lapsed it isn't my fault now fight unless your too scared!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2013

    I hate it !

    Mitt romney should have won ( That is what i belive in)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2013

    Jake

    Hey babe(:

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    Loki

    Goodbye... see you never.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    Kamara

    Ok i will tell her. If you ever need somethin i be at wolf mountain all results bye! Kamara

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2013

    Dgfgfvhvvjhnjvgkn hjnnf

    Uujjjjjjkjjkhjnhjhjhkvkh..n
    Nnnbn nnmnnbnnnbbvnnnnbbnnnn

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2013

    A must read for followers of things political.

    This book is a delightful poetic romp along the 2012 Republican primaries' trail and the November election.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    Great Humor

    Mr. Trillin is so clever. Loved this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Lol

    Try to see mitt romney loose agaim im on obamas side bcuz he cares bout low class middle class and high class unlike romney so
    Go obama

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 29, 2012

    A very clever rehash of one of the most painful campaigns of all time.

    The GOP put up a slew of questionalble candidates in 2012, and Trillin sums up their strengths(?) and weaknesses in rhyme. So delicious . . .

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 28, 2012

    Fine Summation

    This book is wonderful. It covers last fall's Presidential race, the debates and the outcome...all while rhyming. Calvin Trillin has done a brilliant job with this book keeping it evenly written without pandering to one side or the other. It's a fast, entertaining and laugh out loud look at what hit us this past election.

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  • Posted December 14, 2012

    Calvin Trillin at his best

    Witty and on-point recent history without being acerbic, which is quite a feat considering this campaign.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2012

    Great

    Great

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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