‘About politics’: Is it or isn’t it? Plus three political novels recced on NPR

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image All the King’s Men has long been my favorite political novel. But is Robert Penn Warren‘s masterpiece truly about politics? Not in the opinion of Dick Meyer of National Public Radio, who, though describing it as "poetic and unforgivable," observes:

…to say it’s about politics is like, well, saying War and Peace is about war and peace."

I’d respectively disagree. Politics above all is about people, and I’m less interested in the process and the inside stuff than about, say, the personal lives of Willie Stark and Jack Burden as related to the turmoil around them.  ATKM delivers. Politics influences their personal lives and vice versa.

So what does Meyer like?

1. Advise and Consent, by the late Allen Drury, which I could never get into, because neither the characterizations nor the plot intrigued me. See my earlier guide to guides of Washington fiction where I give AAC a quick mention.

2. Shelley’s Heart, by Charles McCarry, which Meyer praises for nailing "the anthropology of Washington with savage wit." OK, that’s more like it. It’ll be on my to-read list.

3. Roscoe, a story of New York politics, by William J. Kennedy, whom none other than Saul Bellow encouraged to write fiction. Another to-read.

Note: The NPR item is some months old, but still of interest to me at least.

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