O: A Presidential Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview


The truth only fiction can tell.

This is a novel about aspiration and delusion, set during the presidential election of 2012 and written by an anonymous author who has spent years observing politics and the fraught relationship between public image and self-regard.

The novel includes revealing and insightful portraits of many prominent figures in the political world—some invented and some real.

...
See more details below
O: A Presidential Novel

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$14.99
BN.com price

Overview


The truth only fiction can tell.

This is a novel about aspiration and delusion, set during the presidential election of 2012 and written by an anonymous author who has spent years observing politics and the fraught relationship between public image and self-regard.

The novel includes revealing and insightful portraits of many prominent figures in the political world—some invented and some real.

Read More Show Less
  • O: A Presidential Novel
    O: A Presidential Novel  

Editorial Reviews

Ron Charles
Cal's job is to engineer the reelection of Barack Obama, and like a well-run campaign, everything in this novel remains relentlessly "on message." Even the physical world seems excluded from these characters' lives, a fair representation, I'm sure, of the claustrophobic concentration the campaign requires. In fact, that's what O does best—without any undue cynicism or gooey romanticism: It clearly illustrates, season by season, just how effectively presidential campaigners plan, draft and articulate the political discourse that the press pretends it controls.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal
The Obama campaign for 2012 is the theme of this bloated "insider's" look at politics written by an unidentified author—à la Primary Colors—whom the publisher coyly states "has been in the room with Barack Obama and wishes to remain anonymous." "O" is planning his reelection campaign with the aid of trusted advisors Avi Samuelson (aka Rahm Emanuel) and Cal Regan (ooh, could it be David Axelrod?) and is running against a halfway-decent Republican who seems a weird composite of John McCain and Mitt Romney. Various other characters clearly modeled on real-life individuals flit in and out of the narrative, but no one, not even the pensive O, makes a lasting impression. Actor Campbell Scott, however, does an excellent job with the narration, though, considering his talent as a performer, even he seems to be phoning it in a little. Those wishing to retain a shred of belief in the notion that the phrase "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you" has any validity should skip this sour lemon of a book. ["A political junkie's rollicking read delivered by a knowledgeable, if subjective, insider," read the review of the S. & S. hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 2/10/11.—Ed.]—Joseph L. Carlson, Vandenberg Air Force Base Lib., Lompoc, CA
Kirkus Reviews

A gossipy, entertaining novel about presidential politics—and if this roman à clef got any more clef, it'd have to be printed on newsprint.

Who is the O of the title? Let's see: a sitting president who speaks of hope and change, surrounded by Chicagoans, beset by "a disorganized mob of conspiracy nuts, immigrant haters, vengeful Old Testament types, publicity hustlers, and people who just have way too much time on their hands"—to say nothing of a nastily reactionary Republican-dominated House on one side and disappointed progressives on the other. Fill in the blanks on who you think O ought to be; it's not important, and we might just as well steal a page from Bogart and call him Doghouse O'Reilly. Whatever the case, this worm's-eye view of extreme politics is a slightly sharper-edged version of The West Wing, dominated by world-weary but once idealistic operatives who dislike being thought of as operatives and who are loyal to a president who's got just a touch too much on his plate: health care, climate change, war, terrorism and "a big, fat, catastrophic, global recession, courtesy of [O's] predecessor." Much of the action centers on wheeler-dealer Cal Regan, who understands politics for the bloodbath it is, though plenty of other people wander by with recognizable name plates (care to guess at the real-world counterpart of Avi Samuelson, "the president's closest advisor"?). Happily for the nation, things work out OK for most of those concerned—even if O gets dinged up playing hard games of basketball. Did we mention that the president plays basketball? Well, he does, and if that's not a giveaway... But no matter. It's a shame that the book is surrounded by the cynical attention-getting ploy of a secret author, who will likely be outed as quickly as was Joe Klein when he published Primary Colors(1996),for the novel stands capably on its own two feet, and it really doesn't need the extra layer of glitz its handlers layered on.Still, it probably won't hurt sales.

So who's Anonymous? Who cares? O is a worthy read, no matter who the author.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451625981
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 1/25/2011
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,359,230
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author


The author of O has been in the room with Barack Obama and wishes to remain anonymous.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


CHAPTER 1

Another day glided to a pleasant finish as Cal Regan walked the four blocks from his office to Lucille’s Bar and Grill. He let his mind idle for a few minutes to enjoy the fragrant, warm April evening and the scent of the beautiful young woman who brushed by him and smiled when he caught her eye.

At thirty-four, he was impressively accomplished: he’d been a prodigy on Capitol Hill, where in six years he had risen from summer legal intern to chief of staff in the office of a Senate luminary famous for spotting and nurturing political genius; executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the election that returned Democrats to power; deputy manager of the president’s campaign (responsible for, among other things, placating and gently disappointing major donors, party VIPs, Hollywood celebrities, and useful reporters); and a deputy again, to the head of the president-elect’s transition team.

He had expected and was offered a coveted position on the White House staff, assistant to the president and director of the Office of Congressional Relations, where his practiced manner with sensitive egos could help assuage any distress caused by the president’s aloofness and his chief of staff’s brusqueness. He had turned it down, pleading the urgent need to settle a lingering student loan debt. In truth, he had correctly estimated that his market value at the time would not be increased by the position, and had decided to acquire wealth immediately. He had remained useful in various ways to his White House patrons in the expectation that he would return to public service in the second term, in a more prestigious capacity.

Two weeks after news of his availability caught the attention of Washington’s most prominent deal makers, he was made a partner in the preeminent Democratic law firm of Hanson, Strong LLP, and de facto head of its government relations practice. Even the most illustrious of his new partners valued his connections and talent, and regarded him with a mixture of relief and regret. They understood that his smiling presence in the richly appointed partners’ library would assure the firm’s continued mining of wealth from politics, just as it signaled the beginning of a quiet end to their own days of supremacy among Washington’s permanent elite. Thus it always was, they graciously conceded to themselves: the old must give way to the new.

Another, less valuable partner would serve officially as the firm’s director of government relations, sparing Regan the necessity of registering as a lobbyist—a distinction that could complicate his future plans. Both men understood the arrangement to be the kind employed in a city where appearances were more important than titles. Both knew who would be giving orders.

Regan had signed a new client today, an important one: the country’s newest software billionaire, a man much like himself who winked at the fussy guardians and moldier conventions of both their businesses, and paid them just enough attention to encourage them to get out of his way. Cal was flattered that his client recognized they had much in common. And now, as young, influential, handsome, and almost wealthy Cal Regan made his way to Lucille’s, he had few cares worth bothering about.

He entered unnoticed and, reaching the bar, placed a hand on his friend Michael Lowe’s shoulder. “Mick” to his friends, and “Mickey” when Regan was in an expansive mood, Lowe was short and muscular, the effect of habitual weight training that had caused one observer to describe him as “a squared-off fireplug of a guy.” He kept his hair cropped so short that people incorrectly assumed he was anticipating baldness. He had a menacing look and an incongruously soft, high-pitched voice, for which he compensated with the extra ridicule he used when defending his opinions.

Lowe and Regan were genuine friends rather than “Washington friends,” those utilitarian, affectionless acquaintanceships prevalent in the nation’s capital. They had been close since Regan had hired him to run opposition research at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and had recommended him for a bigger if less specific job in the ’08 campaign. Lowe had made his reputation by expertly sowing mayhem: conjuring from minor and ambiguously related facts in an opponent’s record hints of possible scandal, and whispering those hints into the right reporter’s ear. Regan had been the first to recognize his gifts, and Lowe was beholden to him.

Mick Lowe was a Cal Regan guy. They enjoyed each other’s company and valued their alliance. They looked out for each other. Lowe had recently opened his own public affairs shop, offering full-service consulting to corporate and political clients. He and his partners relied on Regan to recommend them to his clients, particularly clients whose competitors enjoyed unnecessarily positive reputations. Regan knew he could turn to Lowe for almost any favor anytime he needed one.

Lowe turned to greet Regan with a “Hey, man,” and nodded his head to indicate the table where Madison Cohan sat with her colleagues. Her familiar throaty laughter was distinctly audible over the din of the crowd. She saw them look at her and gave Regan a smile and a little wave. He returned the acknowledgment as casually as he could, careful not to appear delighted to see her.

Maddy Cohan always managed to make him self-conscious, causing him to premeditate every reaction to her, even simple gestures of greeting. Few people had this effect on him, and it irritated him. Were it not for the fact he was in love with her, he would have disliked her.

“She’s got something,” Lowe alerted him.

Mistakenly assuming it a reference to her sex appeal, Regan offered a crude reply: “Yeah, a great ass, the not-so-secret secret to her charm.”

“Still pining?”

“I never want what I can’t have, Mickey.”

“Is that so?”

Lowe knew his friend had a romantic interest in Maddy Cohan that had begun the moment she had introduced herself to Regan during the last campaign. She had been a very junior reporter, not long out of journalism school, when she walked up to Regan after a press conference and asked to take him to lunch. Senior staff on a presidential campaign seldom have the time or curiosity to sit down to an unscheduled lunch with a reporter no one has ever heard of before, but Regan had smiled and said, “Sure, give me ten minutes,” and gone to fetch his coat. A few days later, he had instructed Lowe to give her the first look at some opposition research the campaign had just finished.

“Why should we give it to a kid working for a fucking website startup,” Lowe had asked, “instead of the Times or Post?

“What do you check first thing in the morning now? The Times? Post? Or that fucking website start-up?” Regan had answered.

Kansas City Star.”

Lowe was a K.C. native. He had no intention of ever returning to his hometown, but he remained a sentimental booster of its attractions, especially its lackluster professional sports franchises.

“And after you find out the Chiefs still suck?” Regan teased.

“My horoscope.”

Lowe had talked briefly to Maddy a few minutes before Regan arrived and had gotten the sense she was working on a story about the president’s reelection campaign, which had recently opened its headquarters in Chicago. She had only asked if he had heard anything from Chicago. But Mick Lowe prided himself on his ability to detect reporters’ ulterior motives even when they were disguised in seemingly innocent questions, or attractively packaged in the person of Maddy Cohan.

“That’s it? That’s all she asked?” Cal queried him. “I think that’s called a conversation starter, Mickey, you suspicious bastard. Is there news from Chicago?”

“Yeah, it’s still fucking snowing. I don’t know, but she does. It’s not what she asked but how she asked, with that superfly smile of hers.”

Neither Mick nor Cal was close to Stu Trask, the veteran strategist whom the president had asked to manage his campaign, but they weren’t adversaries either. Trask had come on board late in the last campaign. He had done work for several of the candidates competing for the nomination and had sat out the primaries. After O had clinched the nomination, Trask was one of the first calls Avi Samuelson, the president’s closest advisor, had made. He and Trask had worked together early in their careers in several losing campaigns, and friendships formed in failure often outlast those made in happier circumstances.

When Trask arrived in Chicago as a senior advisor without portfolio, he was shown deference by staff who had worked for the campaign since its unpromising beginning and had learned how to avoid Avi Samuelson’s displeasure. Regan had been careful to treat Trask respectfully, but neither man had been genuinely impressed by the other. Regan wasn’t surprised Trask hadn’t sought his advice as he assembled his headquarters or thought to include him in semiregular discussions with outside advisors, and he wasn’t troubled by it either. Everyone, including Stu Trask, knew the campaign’s command center wasn’t in Chicago but in Avi Samuelson’s West Wing office—just a few feet from the president’s—where Cal Regan was a frequent visitor.

Regan finished his drink and, on the pretense of good manners, went to say hello to Maddy Cohan. Lowe trailed after him.

“How are you, Maddy?”

“I’m well, Cal. You? You know Jeanne and Tim, right?”

Jeanne and Tim Sears, Maddy Cohan’s close friends and former colleagues, had left journalism a few months after they married. Jeanne had crossed the divide to work as communications director for a newly elected Democratic senator from her home state. Tim had traded the cachet of working for the latest multimedia venture for a living wage, shorter hours, and an office with windows at a midsize public relations firm. Neither regretted the decision.

Maddy motioned for them to sit down, and Regan pulled a chair next to hers.

Tim Sears greeted him with the information that they were now sharing a client.

“Who’s that?”

“I understand you just signed or are about to sign Allen Knowles. He’s my account at Fenwick.”

Knowles was the client Regan had signed that day. He wasn’t sure which annoyed him more: that someone who had been in PR for less than a year was the lead on a major account, or that Sears knew he had signed Knowles before Regan knew that Sears had.

“Great. We’ll be working together, then. Look forward to it. Did I hear you’re changing beats, Maddy?” Regan asked, surmising that if she was working on a Chicago story, she would be leaving Capitol Hill, where she’d been assigned after the election, to cover the campaign.

“Where’d you hear that?”

“Can’t remember, offhand. Gossip I picked up somewhere. Back to the glamorous life of campaign reporting, I heard.”

“Well, you know more than I do, then. Will hasn’t decided, or he hasn’t announced anyway, who we’re rotating to the campaigns. I’m happy on the Hill, really. People talk to reporters there.”

Will was Willem Janssen, Maddy’s editor, who had left a promising career at a newspaper of record to start Body Politic with financing from a bored billionaire and a plan to make his new venture irresistible to Washington insiders by accelerating the news cycle from a day to an hour with hypercoverage of everything said or done by anyone with political credentials. His success at monetizing Washington’s self-obsessive nature had marked him as a potential savior of political journalism. He was much disliked by editors and reporters still working for newspapers with cratering ad revenue, and who felt demeaned chasing stories his reporters had broken first or, in the opinion of some disgruntled critics, “invented.”

“Who doesn’t talk to you, Maddy?” Lowe mischievously offered. “You’re as well sourced as they come.”

“Well, you never made much of a habit of it, Mick. I think I’m still waiting for you to return a hundred or so of my calls.”

“I’m the strong, silent type, Maddy. But my love runs deep.”

“More like the use ’em and lose ’em type. Your love is entirely transactional.”

Jealous of her attention, Regan cut short their teasing. “Let’s get back to discussing your plans for the future. Are you gonna cover the reelect?”

“Why the interest, Cal? Aren’t you too busy getting rich to worry about who’s covering the campaign?”

“Simply expressing an interest in your career.”

“Cal, when did you start taking an interest in careers other than your own?”

This stung him. He did not want to appear just another self-important, cynical Washington operator. Not to her. Were he to confess he’d been hurt by the remark, she would assure him she had just been teasing. But in Regan’s experience, people revealed more of their real opinions in jest than in gentler conversation. He felt an urgent necessity to make every effort to improve her opinion of him, and wouldn’t leave the table until he was certain he had made good progress toward that end.

Ninety minutes later, only Cal and Maddy were still there. The Searses had relatives visiting the next day, and Lowe had made his own excuses when he saw his presence had become superfluous. They remained there another two hours, talking quietly about themselves: families and old friendships; their simplest pleasures, rarely indulged anymore; early ambitions long abandoned and vague aspirations to other, more virtuous occupations. He showed her a picture of his recently acquired sailboat. She showed him a picture of a towheaded three-year-old, her niece. Progress was made.

© 2011 Anonymous

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 25, 2011

    Just another book to separate people.

    If you thrive on separation, and want to believe what an "anonymous" person tells you, then pick up this book. Even the author didn't believe in it enough to put his or her name on it. Just more propaganda. blah blah blah.

    5 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 21, 2011

    O Is Right....OMG!

    I had an opportunity to read an advance copy of this book and all I can ever say is thank you. This book is a must read. I love the "Sarah Palin" character. She was a hoot. This might be my second favorite book after "When God Stopped Keeping Score," which takes an intimate look at the power of God and forgiveness. In one word, that book too is amazing. Amazing!

    3 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Okay

    I enjoyed O, although it was a bit dull in the beginning. It does take us on a view of presidential politics that covers a lot of the campaign issues more than the presidential issues. My 4 stars are my opinion- I received no advance copy or pay for this review and could not care less about NOOK pricing, at least until I get one!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 17, 2011

    Great Book

    If you've ever worked in a Presidential campaign (especially 2008) this is a fun "Must Read" book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted June 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)