Tuesday, September 05, 2006

five minute book review: spanking the donkey by matt taibbi

my beloved brother ass introduced me to taibbi's writing about a month ago. i suppose that one could characterize taibbi as a political satirist, but i think that he more closely resembles an absurd form of political prophet. in spanking the donkey taibbi traces the trails of the 2004 political candidates and tries to maintain his sanity throughout the process. early on in his electoral adventures, taibbi concludes that the whole electoral process is a mere sham that is shaped more by the desires of corporate media than it is about real political issues. thus, he protests the absurdity of the presidential race by following john kerry through the streets of new hampshire, and ultimately interviewing him, while in a monkey suit and, in a latter scene, getting hopped up on two hits of acid and dressing in a viking outfit before conducting an interview with kerry's chief press person. occasionally taibbi also pursues stories in a more traditional manner by pursuing the opinions of the poor on the presidential race, doing a bit of brilliant investigative reporting by going undercover as an operative in the florida for bush campaign and conducting a number of intriguing interviews with figures such as dennis kucinich. my only complaint about the book is that the pieces are incredibly uneven insofar some of the pieces are simply brilliant, while others, such as the lengthy wimblehack piece, feel incredibly forced and are ultimately boresome. however, this is a typical weakness of books that contain a compendium of essays (for another example, see chuck klosterman's sex, drugs and coco puffs) and, in the end, does not detract too much from the quality of the book.

so, if you are intrigued by the potential but sickened by the reality of politics and are not easily offended by drug-induced political reporting you should take a few hours to spank the donkey.

1 comment:

Rick said...

great review

actually I could not even make it all the way through the Wimblewhack chapter. I would pick it up and read it here and there, but found myself bored stiff, except for the brilliant opening section.

I think it probably worked as an ongoing weekly piece in the newspaper. It could have been funny as a sort of running diary.

He is the most astute political and media observer I have ever seen (granted, I have missed alot).