May 2, 2012

"Moments trip gently along" for Obama, whose "feet hum over the dry walks," in his letter to his NY girlfriend Alex McNear.

Look out! It's David Maraniss's new book "Obama: The Story," which tapped as sources 2 girlfriends, Alex McNear and Genevieve Cook (who were presented in his memoir as a composite character). Vanity Fair has a big excerpt from the book, and I'm just going to home in on one thing, Obama's letter — you can't call it a love letter — to McNear, who was a co-editor of a literary magazine ("Feast") who was "interested in postmodern literary criticism, and her arguments brimmed with the deconstructionist ideas of Jacques Derrida, the French philosopher." After some talk about Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, he moved on to the subject of himself:
Moments trip gently along over here. Snow caps the bushes in unexpected ways, birds shoot and spin like balls of sound. My feet hum over the dry walks. A storm smoothes the sky, impounding the city lights, returning to us a dull yellow glow. 
I am now willing to believe Obama wrote his own memoir. This is that jejune "creative writing" style that I was talking about back in 2009, right here:



Let's continue with the epistle to McNear:
I run every other day at the small indoor track [at Columbia] which slants slightly upward like a plate; I stretch long and slow, twist and shake, the fatigue, the inertia finding home in different parts of the body. I check the time and growl—aargh!—and tumble onto the wheel. And bodies crowd and give off heat, some people are in front and you can hear the patter or plod of the steps behind. You look down to watch your feet, neat unified steps, and you throw back your arms and run after people, and run from them and with them, and sometimes someone will shadow your pace, step for step, and you can hear the person puffing, a different puff than yours, and on a good day they’ll come up alongside and thank you for a good run, for keeping a good pace, and you nod and keep going on your way, but you’re pretty pleased, and your stride gets lighter, the slumber slipping off behind you, into the wake of the past.
Oh, how I hope Obama the President is keeping a journal, describing the experience of being President with exactly this style and perspective. So internal and yet so superficial in the recording of sights and sounds.

You nod and keep going on your way, but you’re pretty pleased, and your stride gets lighter, the slumber slipping off behind you, into the wake of the past.

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

134 comments:

chickenlittle said...

Meh. I'd still rather see grades and transcripts than letters to girlfriends.

And who says Bill Ayers is an accomplished writer?

Christopher in MA said...

Either Bill Ayers got a lobotomy before he wrote this or all that coke really did a number on the SCOAMF's brain.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Whatever.

Wet dreams for progressives.

prairie wind said...

Oh, how I hope Obama the President is keeping a journal

Obama the boyfriend, indeed.

Maybe it is only love letters where he can catch this groove--letters to girlfriends, books about himself. Writing about America and Americans, the groove is impossible to find. After he loses in the fall and he writes another memoir, maybe we'll learn How Obama Got His Groove Back.

Joseph Schmoe said...

I'd rather read the fatuous tripe of the art historian who wrote about Gauguin's grody syphilitic body.

If intellect were classified the same way as boxing weight classes, Obama would be a super flyweight.

lemondog said...

humming feet = zonked out.

Joseph Schmoe said...

He was probably listening to "I'm Too Sexy" on his Walkman while he was navel-gazing, I mean exercising.

Shorter version of any Obama writing:

"Me me me me me, me me me, me me me me me. Me, I, me me me me MEEE! Fucking look at MEEEE!"

I'm going to refer to him as Beaker (from the Muppets).

Smilin' Jack said...

Oh, how I hope Obama the President is keeping a journal, describing the experience of being President with exactly this style and perspective.

And I hope by then the Bulwer-Lytton people have instituted a prize for non-fiction.

AllieOop said...

Ann, I agree, with that style of writing, reading a memoir would be pure pleasure. Ahhh sigh, he can sing and he can write....I hope he can stay true to campaign promises.

Amartel said...

It's very collegey, a time when a person thinks a lot about him or her self. It's just a snippet but it does seem very me me me, here's my experience, let's talk about ME, here's some very self-conscious descriptions of things that happen to me. Even the other runners are grateful for me. Pity the girlfriend. Does he talk about her at all? Can't tell.
We're not going to get grades and scores but consider why we get this instead. It's being released because they think it reflects well on Obama. Like the silly poem thing that was released. Other progressives will relate.

Fen said...

Did he eat them and then eat-eat them to gain their special powers?

Mitchell said...

The glow of the computer monitor warms my gaze like fluffy pillows doing deep knee bends in the taxicabs of my mind.

Amartel said...

Josephe Schmoe, hilarious.
"I'm to sexy for this party!"
But leave Beeker out of this, please. He's a poor innocent. And who would be Dr. Honeydew?

YoungHegelian said...

I think Obama turned his girlfriends into a composite because he thought a few too many of them were white for future public consumption for his early political plans

Was he worried about the reaction of white racists? Probably not, as he probably wrote them off entirely.

No, who he was trying to placate was probably black women, who take a very dim view of high end black males going for white chicks. Black women were going to be important to his future plans.

Amartel said...

AllieOop, please say you're joking. Please.

MayBee said...

It's too much! Too self conscious, too self-congratulatory.
"Look what I'm writing? Isn't it wonderful?"

MayBee said...

LOL, Smilin' Jack.

EMD said...

"ou look down to watch your feet, neat unified steps, and you throw back your arms and run after people, and run from them and with them, and sometimes someone will shadow your pace, step for step, and you can hear the person puffing, a different puff than yours, and on a good day they’ll come up alongside and thank you for a good run, for keeping a good pace, and you nod and keep going on your way, but you’re pretty pleased, and your stride gets lighter, the slumber slipping off behind you, into the wake of the past.
"

I'll give him credit -- the man can write a run-on sentence if he wants to.

Carnifex said...

"It was a dark and stormy night" seems like Shakespeare after reading that snippet.

@AllieOop

Is it because he's kept so many to start with? Or does honesty really matter to a democrat. I had a higher opinion of you till I read that comment. Sorry.

Christopher in MA said...

AllieOop, please say you're joking. Please.

It's hard to tell with His fanboys, isn't it?

MayBee said...

I hope he can stay true to campaign promises.

Three and a half years in, and you still can't tell?

bagoh20 said...

I find it a very uninteresting and laborious style. I feel like I learned nothing new about him or anything else after reading all that. It's writing to fill pages - to impress her with the appearance of effort and thought. He knew what she needed to see, and that she would do the rest on her own. He's been practicing this for a while. It is very much him.

Erika said...

Lordy, he sounds like me and my proto-emo gifted-class dorkathon friends, circa the eighth grade.

EDH said...

What a guy won't do or say just to get laid.

paminwi said...

Thank goodness I ended up with a barf bag from my flight home yesterday by mistake. At least I have something to use today when I hurl!

Holmes said...

The most depressing love letter I've ever seen. He was detached from everything even then.

Aridog said...

I presume writing styles have changed a bit. They must have changed a lot.

The sophomoric drivel I just read here, presumably by Obama, would have garnered a "F" in every English composition course I ever took. "Flaming" red pencil circles and exclamation marks would have attended each and every "I" and "me" and "my" ... but apparently no in his case, since that is still his style of both speaking and writing.

the wolf said...

Oh, how I hope Obama the President is keeping a journal, describing the experience of being President with exactly this style and perspective.

I hope he's better at writing about being president than he is at actually being president.

Joseph Schmoe said...

Well, to Obama's credit, they withheld the part where he intones "Before I fuck you, you should know you're to be scared a little, because I'm a man and I know how to do things..."

Carnifex said...

Would he have been more honest to write...

I look down to watch my feet, neat unified steps, and I throw back my arms and run after people, and run from them and with them, and sometimes someone will shadow my pace, step for step, and I can hear the person puffing, a different puff than mine, and on a good day they’ll come up alongside and thank me for a good run, for keeping a good pace, and I nod and keep going on my way, but I'm pretty pleased, and my stride gets lighter, the slumber slipping off behind me, into the wake of the past.

You know... make it intimate. As it is who writes about themselves in the third person? Those people that use the royal "we"?

Carnifex said...

It would make good porn for Egyptians to read to their dead spouses!... 'cause all the action is one sided anyway.

bagoh20 said...

No wonder women so often end up disappointed. If they can fall for that, then they are just asking for it.

It's like a guy in a creative writing class was rushing to fill pages for an assignment, and just wrote whatever he saw around him in the hours before it was due.

I'm no writing expert, but I'm not a sucker either.

Joseph Schmoe said...

He left out the part where he smokes a pack of butts after his workout. "The smoke rings naturally form a halo around my head, and the nuns walking by comment on it with ecclesiastic enthusiasm; I nod, having become accustomed to the stigma of my stigmata, and then watch as the nuns recede into the recesses of the city, the flow of their habits and scapulars lifting me to a celestial place in my considerable mind. Imus thinks he's God's other Son? As if."

Pete said...

Romney just lost Althouse. She's in loooove!

prairie wind said...

I recommend A Reader's Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness in American Literary Prose.

bagoh20 said...

I bet if Allie found out that was Rush Limbaugh that wrote that, she would react a little differently.

Althouse too.

They're impressed like when you see a dog who seems to be saying "I love you."
Ahh! Isn't that adorable?

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, I agree, with that style of writing, reading a memoir would be pure pleasure. Ahhh sigh, he can sing and he can write....I hope he can stay true to campaign promises."

You don't agree with me. I'm not talking about "pure pleasure." I'm talking about the impure pleasure of laughing, mocking, and looking for the most embarrassing stuff.

m stone said...

The technical term for this is "crock."

AllieOop said...

Yes, I AM kidding and I'm a liberal. I found both his books boring.

cassandra lite said...

How does snow cap bushes in "unexpected" ways? For Obama, it didn't form busts of him.

AllieOop said...

YES, Ann I know.

prairie wind said...

Ann and Allie find redemption!

Carnifex said...

I've often wondered how despicable a human being you have to be to get a dog to turn on you...at least he hasn't fallen that far. That muslims think of dogs as unclean is very telling too.

AllieOop said...

Bagoh, cut Ann and I a break, we were both poking fun at the letter, I think.

Carnifex said...

Uhuh now Allie and Ann are playing the old, "those stupid men fell for it "card.

My problem is I fall for the original play, and then the trump too. I am forever doomed to not understand women. (I blame my father for this)

yashu said...

Oh, how I hope Obama the President is keeping a journal, describing the experience of being President with exactly this style and perspective.

Hahaha, yes! Actually, this idea seems like irresistible fodder for a parody blog. If TOTUS can have a blog, why can't creative writing Obama? So much potential funny to be had there.

This is that jejune "creative writing" style that I was talking about back in 2009.

Heh, "jejune" is the perfect word for it. But Althouse, you have the temerity to say that Obama is writing to us out of jejunosity? He's one of the most june people in all of the Americas!

Blue@9 said...

Some of the lines aren't bad, but he's trying way too hard to make poetry of it. Good poetry and metaphor feel effortless, whereas this is just way way overdone

chickenlittle said...

The word jejunum hits me right in the duodenum.

Chip Ahoy said...

My favorite part was where he looked deeply into her eyes and saw himself inside there dancing romantically. I'm amalgamating my favorites over here.

Ipso Fatso said...

Maraniss & Obama certainly timed this well for the run up to the election. Maraniss is just doing his part to get our boy re-elected.

edutcher said...

Whether it proves he wrote the book or not, it tends to give credence to another theory about which side of the batter's box he swings from.

MadisonMan said...

The real question is: Did it work? Did he get laid?

MayBee said...

I like the way this book, "The Story", is brought in to bat clean-up for the man's two autobiographies.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

I can't wait until we read the love notes to his boyfriends.

gerry said...

So internal and yet so superficial in the recording of sights and sounds.

"...internal and...superficial"

Perfect.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"... I hope he can stay true to campaign promises.

Three and a half years in, and you still can't tell?.."

Thread win.

bagoh20 said...

"Bagoh, cut Ann and I a break, we were both poking fun at the letter, I think."

Riiiiight. You both voted for him, lured by the same bullshit.

BTW, I'm just kidding about my criticism of your kidding about his ... Oh the hell with it. I don't believe you.

Just admit you got suckered by the guy who writes stuff like this. If not today, then at least once.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

This reminds me when someone quoted a passage from Obama but said it was written by Bush. The lefties went barshit crazy criticism the writing as a crime against humanity. Then it was revealed the quote was from Obama. Many red faces and much backtracking resulted.

leslyn said...

Interesting link to Fitzgerald. Who is Althouse playing in "The Great Gatsby," and who is Obama?

Amartel said...

I clicked over and read the VF article. Nothing overly surprising; post-college kids casting about for meaning in life. Of note is that when the girlfriend tells him she loves him his response is "thank you." Later, in a a completely unpredictable development, Robobama is shown the door.

Almost Ali said...

It was the best of times, now it's the worst of times.

Impeach the jive turkey before it's too late.

gerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hoosier Daddy said...

"... Of note is that when the girlfriend tells him she loves him his response is "thank you." Later, in a a completely unpredictable development, Robobama is shown the door..."


He should have said 'I know.'

It worked for Han Solo.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"Bagoh, cut Ann and I a break, we were both poking fun at the letter, I think."

Allie, I am sorry, but you really do sound sophomoric, presumptive and disingenuous. I doubt Ann wants to sit at your lunch table.

The writing is vacuous horseshit.

gerry said...

Heh. A pretend friend.

Bryan C said...

"aargh!"

I find it reads better if you end each sentence with "... In bed!"

AllieOop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AllieOop said...

Don't Tread, you sound like a Tea Party jackass, I would bet Ann and I agree on far more issues than YOU and she agree on. Now you've suckered me into a sophomoric argument on who Ann likes better, LMAO.

Cheryl said...

I would pay to hear the Professor do a dramatic reading of that paragraph. Actually, maybe of montage of several people reading excerpts...gold.

Amartel said...

The composite girlfriend thing is weird and creepy. I guess it's justified if you assume that the people you have met would want to maintain their privacy. OTOH, that's obviously not the case here since at least one of the g'friends is publishing her journals. So it comes back to the weirdness of reducing people, individuals, to a white-chick-who-doesn't-understand-ME composite. It's like they don't exist as people except insofar as they reflect Obama.

jvermeer51 said...

Ann wrote: "I am now willing to believe Obama wrote his own memoir."
One point Jack Cashill makes in his book about Obama is that writing is a skill which takes lots of practice. We have precious little writing from Obama. Two books which are, according to Cashill, quite good. We have a couple of other pieces (literally three or four) which are awful. That's it. So how did this marvelous memoir, for which Obama missed his deadline, spring Venus like from his skull?

bagoh20 said...

My girlfriend is a composite too. It's less contentious that way. I just talk to the one I'm currently getting along with the best. I'm magnanimous in bed though, leaving no one out in the cold. Don't burn any bridges, and all that.

bagoh20 said...

By composite we are talking about a combination of vinyl and latex, right?

AllenS said...

Obama is making shit up. If he was an Indian, his name would be: Big Making Shut Up.

LarsPorsena said...

AllieOop said...

Don't Tread, you sound like a Tea Party jackass, I would bet Ann and I agree on far more issues than YOU and she agree on. Now you've suckered me into a sophomoric argument on who Ann likes better, LMAO.

5/2/12 2:46 PM

_________________________

Jackass? Tea Party Jackass?

The jackass is mascot of another party; which will remain nameless.

bagoh20 said...

I like how this is obviously bad, but "hope and change" or "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal" we're convincing.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Meh! I'm saving my snark for the long lost sex tape that will probably show up a couple of weeks before the election.

bagoh20 said...

"the long lost sex tape that will probably show up a couple of weeks before the election."

Oh, how the ladies will swoon when they see why his ears stick out like that.

Amartel said...

Starring Obama and a mirror.

Allie will faint dead away.

Saint Croix said...

From one of his autobiographies...

One night I took her to see a new play by a black playwright. It was a very angry play, but very funny. Typical black American humor.

It's weird how Obama writes like he's an alien from outer space sometimes. "Typical black American humor." That makes me think of the way he spoke about his grandmother. "Typical white person." He sees people as types rather than people.

The audience was mostly black, and everybody was laughing and clapping and hollering like they were in church. After the play was over, my friend started talking about why black people were so angry all the time.

Funny how Obama says the play is "like church" while she sees the play as "angry." Church is angry? Really? Later on Obama would go to an angry church, and then deny that he had heard any of that stuff.

I said it was a matter of remembering—nobody asks why Jews remember the Holocaust, I think I said—and she said that’s different, and I said it wasn’t, and she said that anger was just a dead end. We had a big fight, right in front of the theater. When we got back to the car she started crying. She couldn’t be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. She could only be herself, and wasn’t that enough.

It makes sense that Obama would date white women (like his mother) and abandon them (like his father). And it's sweet that he has managed to build a family, when he didn't have much of a role model at all.

And yet I find all of Obama's racialism, and his quest for a racial identity, so weird and off-putting. But at least it's honest in its alienation. Obama's poetic style, on the other hand, alienates me. I can't read it.

AllieOop said...

OK Lars, Don't Tread is a horse's ass, better?

AllieOop said...

Amartel said;

Starring Obama and a mirror.

Allie will faint dead away.

5/2/12 3:04 PM

Please point out to me when and where I have ever said I supported Obama. I'm a liberal, doesn't mean I'm an Obamabot.

chickenlittle said...

Oh, how the ladies will swoon when they see why his ears stick out like that.


Why, because it all went to his head?

Dave D said...

" I'm a liberal, doesn't mean I'm an Obamabot.

Yes. Yes it does. Obama is composite PERFECTION to real liberals.

Amartel said...

Stop heavy breathing all over the monitor, Allie.

Goldstein said...

I value Ann's commenters for the lessons they regularly dish out in malevolent reading, but this contribution is a gem that deserves singling out:

The composite girlfriend thing is weird and creepy. I guess it's justified if you assume that the people you have met would want to maintain their privacy. OTOH, that's obviously not the case here since at least one of the g'friends is publishing her journals. So it comes back to the weirdness of reducing people, individuals, to a white-chick-who-doesn't-understand-ME composite. It's like they don't exist as people except insofar as they reflect Obama.

given that the diaries have emerged (not even been published, but simply made public) 27 years after the events described in them; and there seems no reason whatever not to think that, at the time of writing, Obama expected them to remain private. It takes a special kind of malevolence to assume that because excerpts from the diaries have been published now, the diaries were never intended to remain private, that Obama knew about this, and, thus, that the only justification for composite characters is defeated.

X said...

Michelle Goldberg. The mental midget that told Matt Welch that she literally couldn't conceive of any reason to oppose Obamacare other than racism.

bagoh20 said...

I think the glare of the teleprompter would be very distracting during an intimate encounter.

"Ooooh, Aaaah, Do oh-face here."

AllieOop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AllieOop said...

Dave said;

" I'm a liberal, doesn't mean I'm an Obamabot.

Yes. Yes it does. Obama is composite PERFECTION to real liberals.

5/2/12 3:15 PM

See Dave that is the problem with some conservatives, they only THINK they know what all liberals think. They can't seem to grasp the concept that all liberals don't agree on every issue, yes, yes I know that is exactly what you think, but you would be wrong.

The are those that are left of center and those that are right of center and those that are on the far ends of both philosophies. The fatal error some conservatives seem to make is not understanding that those left of center or even on the left, think for themselves too.

Both liberals and conservatives on the extreme ends tend to engage in group think.

William said...

Just now I'm reading "My Early Life" by Winston Churchill. Churchill was no stranger to ghost writers, but this book was really written by him. It's a fine book filled with cavalry charges, train derailments, and whiz bang adventures. If, during those early years, Churchill had any romantic adventures, he is quite silent on the subject. So that's the way life evolves for world historical figures. From cavalry charges to jogs about an indoor track, from train derailments to piffle fights with your date outside the theatre....Churchill was a product of privilege and preferment, but he knew how to write and he wrote about himself with good humor and the sense that life is a fine adventure....I have Obama's book. I've never been able to get through more than one chapter. I'll try again, but I get the sense that he regards life more as a morality tale than as a fine adventure.

gadfly said...

The same person who wrote "Dreams From My Father" may also have written the love letter - but we have no proof that Obama wrote either one.

This news-magazine article that Obama wrote while at Columbia displays none of the flowery prose that is used in Dreams or in the love letter.

Jack Cashill writes:

"No one attests to Obama's early intellect or industry. Sympathetic biographer David Remnick tells us that he was an "unspectacular" student in his two years at Columbia University and at every stop before that going back to grade school. A Northwestern University prof who wrote a letter of reference for Obama tells Remnick, "I don't think [Obama] did too well in college.

Remnick describes the March 1983 article, "Breaking The War Mentality," as "muddled." He is being kind. If the average citizen need not overly trouble himself with issues of syntax and grammar, a senior at an Ivy League university is expected to. Yet "Breaking" is so far below the Ivy norm that it raises serious questions about Obama's admission to Columbia, let alone his rapid literary ascent in the years to follow."


Of course, since Bill Ayers says he wrote "Dreams From My Father," can we discover if he writes love letters as well for his clients?

BarrySanders20 said...

If you write to persuade, then you write to your audience. I'll cut him some slack since it appears he is trying to get something he wants ... that she has. If he got what he wanted, then it is successful writing. It's dreadful for any other purpose.

Lord knows my attempts at getting what I wanted at age 20 were far different from Obama's (and far different than the rather forward "Girls" example), but I hope I never have to read anything I wrote 25 years ago to a then-love interest.

And Allie, even though I am usually slow on the uptake on sarcasm, it was obvious to me that you were joking -- the jibe about Obama keeping his campaign promises sealed it.

AllieOop said...

Amartel, wipe the spittle off of your chin, it's dripping onto your keyboard, you'll short it out.

AllieOop said...

Well, THANKYOU Barry! Somebody who understands humor, there's hope after all. Hope and Change!

LarsPorsena said...

AllieOop said...

OK Lars, Don't Tread is a horse's ass, better?

5/2/12 3:05 PM
________________________

Allie,
The animal on the Gadsden Jack is a rattlesnake not a horse.

Keep mixing the metaphors. This is fun.

damikesc said...

If you write to persuade, then you write to your audience. I'll cut him some slack since it appears he is trying to get something he wants ... that she has. If he got what he wanted, then it is successful writing. It's dreadful for any other purpose.

I'm assuming he wanted to BORE her...not bone her.

Amartel said...

Gee, Goldstein, you are Quite The Expert on special kinds of malevolence. Allie's not the only one fogging up her monitor.
Is it really that much of a leap to assume that someone who publicizes her journal entries about life with the Obama would mind being identified in a book by Obama? No. Do you think he even called her to ask? Probably not.

AllieOop said...

OK, I'll stick to a snake metaphor since you seem to be bothered by mixed metaphors. Don't Tread is scaly and he speaks with a forked tongue.

Better yet?

pm317 said...

@Ann Althouse: You don't agree with me. I'm not talking about "pure pleasure." I'm talking about the impure pleasure of laughing, mocking, and looking for the most embarrassing stuff.

----------------

oh, you're being sarcastic then. Then good. I am relieved. I thought you had lost your head again over him. He should have remained a second-rate writer than running for president.

Joseph Schmoe said...

AllenS, what a coincidence! That's Elizabeth Warren's Cherokee name, too.

tom scott said...

bagoh wrote: "It's writing to fill pages - to impress her with the appearance of effort and thought. He knew what she needed to see, and that she would do the rest on her own."
I tend to agree. I spent some time working with inmates. I was amused at the way they could con people just by telling them what they wanted to hear. Narcissism and con.

Molly said...

A lot of these comments miss Althouse's main point.

What can you say:

1. Obama's letters are pretty good prose and so is his book.
2. Obama's letter are awful prose and so is his book.

(Either 1 or 2 is reasonable, but is consistent with the hypothesis that Obama wrote his own book(s).)

3. Obama's letters are pretty good prose but his book is pretty bad.

I don't think anyone is arguing this.

4. Obama's letters are pretty awful, but his book is pretty good.

This is the only evidence (or interpretation of evidence) that Obama didn't write his book(s). And it's evidence, not proof. It's perfectly reasonable to assume that Obama's prose was pretty awful when he was young, but improved and was pretty good when he was older.

Rob said...

Most delightful tidbit from the Maraniss excerpt was when the girlfriend told Obama, "I love you," and he replied, "Thank you." Where was that teleprompter when he needed it?

chickenlittle said...

4. Obama's letters are pretty awful, but his book is pretty good.

@Molly: Is his book pretty good? I haven't read it. But what about the likelihood that a friend wrote it and it's also pretty bad? That was my point in the first comment.

chickenlittle said...

Occam's razor might say: the same person wrote the same way at two different times.
But is really so farfetched to presume the involvement of another when the making of a President was at stake?

harrogate said...

"It takes a special kind of malevolence to assume that because excerpts from the diaries have been published now, the diaries were never intended to remain private, that Obama knew about this, and, thus, that the only justification for composite characters is defeated."

Ha. It's not a very special kind around here, though, as you probably know. Indeed, the proprietor herself nicely distills the standards in this very thread:

"I'm talking about the impure pleasure of laughing, mocking, and looking for the most embarrassing stuff."

Yay! I nominate this for masthead of the blog. Just use small font; it'll be totally worth it.

Thorley Winston said...

"It takes a special kind of malevolence to assume that because excerpts from the diaries have been published now, the diaries were never intended to remain private, that Obama knew about this, and, thus, that the only justification for composite characters is defeated."

I disagree, I remember from my writing classes in high school and college that whenever the topic of journaling came up, my instructor invariably made the point that people who kept journals – including personal ones – usually wrote them in a way that they expected someone else to read them.

tim in vermont said...

" A fatalism I share with the western tradition at times." - Barack H. Obama, related to Jesus H Christ, I guess.

He asserts that he is outside of western tradition, with minor exceptions, and wonders why people don't think of him as American. They say it is because he is black. Al Shartpton is black and nobody would ever say he seemed foreign. Obama has a foreign mindset, which he showed by insulting the UK in practically his first act as president.

leslyn said...

Winston:

So what? This whole teapot-tempest is just another "I'm talking about the impure pleasure of laughing, mocking, and looking for the most embarrassing stuff."

Regardless of what your teacher said about journal keepers, this was a letter. So of course he expected the addressee to read it. What I don't think he expected was to have it published many years later for cons to mock him as Would you?

I see in the printed excerpt a young man who was experimenting with language and ideas and expression, and that's simply not worth slamming the man for. I'd feel the same way if it was about Romney. It's mean-spirited and petty.

God forbid we should all be held responsible to a standard for the things and the way we wrote when we were young; "when hearts were light and life was new."

Paul Kirchner said...

One night I took her to see a new play by a black playwright. It was a very angry play, but very funny. Typical black American humor.

The audience was mostly black, and everybody was laughing and clapping and hollering like they were in church. After the play was over, my friend started talking about why black people were so angry all the time.


I wonder if this actually happened. It sounds pat, made up. What is this very angry but very funny play by a black playwright? It would have been worth mentioning the title.

ddh said...

If President Obama writes his memoirs in this style, he should title the book Purple Haze.

He could retire the Bulwer-Lytton Prize.

leslyn said...

Jeez, everything is made up. Grenell made up his reason for leaving the Romney campaign. The description of the play is made up because the writer should have known you were going to ask the question 20 years later.

PatCA said...

I would like to see Jimmy Fallon "slow jam" that so-called love letter to Alex. Wow, that's some ... term paper!

leslyn said...

Speaking of Bulwer-Lytton:

"How expressive is form! I see by night the shadow of a poor woman against a window curtain that instantly tells a story of so much meekness, affection, and labor, as almost to draw tears....It is strange how painful is the actual world, the painful kingdom of time and place. There dwells care and canker and fear. With thought, with the idea is immortal hilarity, the rose of joy. All the muses sing, but with names, and persons, and today's interests, is grief."

MayBee said...

The description of the play is made up because the writer should have known you were going to ask the question 20 years later.

No, the description of the play was made up because he was overdue on his book that he'd been paid to write about race, but was turning into a memoir.

David said...

It's not the worst writing imaginable. He has the sense to avoid adjectives and adverbs for the most part. That's a plus.

But in good writing the described activity and objects are the means to reveal feelings. This passage has lots of description but no feelings. And it's a love letter?

dbp said...

Obama's writing in his books is better than in his love letters, but it is still bad and it is bad in the same way.

William said...

The most basic test of good writing is: does it make you want to go on to the next page. Politically I'm no fan of Obama, but he really does have an interesting backstory. Life for all of us in an existential puzzle, but his life was a very Rubrik's cube. He's got a story to tell. I tried to read his book one time and got nowhere. He's literate but there didn't seem to be any unexpected insights or fancies to the brief bit I read. I'll give it another shot, but there's a heavy earnestness to his writing.....I suppose that's all to the good. Steinbeck said that writers know as much about governing as politicians know about writing.

sydney said...

Much to mock there in those memoirs of 20-somethings in love with themselves, but this story his girlfriend tells about his dream of his father is just plain sad:

...and Obama approached him and hugged him and wept as Barack Hus­sein Obama Sr. said the words Barack Hussein Obama II would never hear in real life—“Barack, I always wanted to tell you how much I love you.”

Genevieve recalled the morning he awoke from that dream. “I remember him being just so overwhelmed, and I so badly wanted to fix him, help him fix that pain. He woke up from that dream and started talking about it. I think he was haunted.”

Ralph L said...

Obama must have had his own version of a "bimbo eruptions" squad back in 2008, trying to keep evidence of his past under wraps.
It's perfectly reasonable to assume that Obama's prose was pretty awful when he was young, but improved and was pretty good when he was older.
But how did it get from one to the other without a lot of practice and a paper trail?

Oh, how the ladies will swoon when they see why his ears stick out like that.
--Why, because it all went to his head?
I believe he means men have held him by the ears, so it won't be a good swooning by the ladies. But I have a dirty mind.

Robert Cook said...

"My feet hum over the dry walks."

How do feet "hum" over dry walks?

A storm smoothes the sky," Wouldn't a storm roil the sky, rather than "smooth" it? "mpounding the city lights, Huh? "returning to us a dull yellow glow." What dull yellow glow?

Yep...it's crap.

Carnifex said...

I haven't read any books written, or supposedly written by Zero, nor do I intend to do so. If avid readers have, then they can answer the question, were all the books written with the same "voice". Choice of phrasing, words, rhythm, all make up a writers voice. And for all but the best writers, that voice comes through.

It's why we have favorite writers. Their choice of subject matter, and the resonance of the voice appeals to our id and superego.

As for his other writings not being as elaborate or as colorful as the autobiographies, don't let the subject matter influence your impression on who wrote what. I would expect a technical manual to be drier than a book of sonnets, for example.

Regardless, I don't need to read the "lost diaries of Zero" to know he is a vainglorious bully with delusions of grandeur. One merely has to watch his actions, or try to listen to one of his speeches where he use the word "I" more times than a little dog will pee on a rose bush.(I hit the trifecta then...references to Zero, dogs, AND pee!!! Yeah me!)

Carnifex said...

@sydney

That poor tortured soul... we must forgive him his mistakes! He just wants a fathers love.

Get over it sydney. We all get effed over by our parents. Didn't you know that? From being smothered with love to being abandoned. It's life. It ain't pretty, and we all live it.

Just as an example...My father struck me across the side of the head when I was 16 with a bow, used in archery, for "walking to loud". After I picked myself up off the ground, I told him if he tried anything like that again, I would kill him. He must have believed me because we are both still alive. Do I love my father less for what he did? No, but I did lose a lot of respect for him. And it's something he will never regain. But we moved on.

I don't ask for any sympathy, or understanding because I know we each have some secret hurt we carry from someone we loved. It doesn't make us special, it makes us human.

I would respect Zero more if he admitted it. I don't think he can. Not regarding anything substantial. Now, as president, he can't. The GOP would use it as a gotcha moment. Too bad, For all our presidents. I would have more respect for Bill Clinton if he had said, "Yeah, you're right. That is my semen on her dress." Or if George Bush had said, "I was wrong, Saddam, while a tyrant, isn't the biggest threat to the US in the middle east". They can't be human anymore because of "gotcha journalism". And our country suffers for it.

Gotcha journalism is apparently based on the belief that we can't change our minds or evolve our ideas and stances.

I don't belief in foxhole conversions either :-)

Old Dad said...

My anus opens, Vesuvius-like, preceded by the gentle then urgent grumbling of my gas gorged guts, expectant of the expectorant, the release, the thrill, the exstasy of that explosion which finally comes and shatters the indignant silence, with that music flattered by my fluttering buttocks, dribbling off into richly earned looks of pride and envy. "Good rip," I hear.

"I fart in your general direction" my look says as I stride purposefully toward my dorm, and the promise of fresh tidy whiteys.

JAL said...

Miss Kurson is turning over in her grave.

(A paragon of an English teacher in my high school.)

JAL said...

I simply cannot bear to listen to / watch Flippy Goldberg.

JAL said...

@ Smilin Jack: Bulwer-Lytton crossed my mind too.

JAL said...

@ Aridog 1:22

You had Miss Kurson too?

Clyde said...

The country would have been much better of if Obama had just become a novelist. When frustrated artistes go into politics (a certain Austrian would-be painter comes to mind), bad things happen.

Very bad things.

sydney said...

Carnifex,
I do not see his sad childhood as a reason to vote for him, or as an excuse for his politics. I agree, the world would have been better off if he had just stuck with writing.

Clyde,
Napoleon was also a failed novelist.

Aridog said...

@JAL ... re: Miss Kurson. Heh, no, but a near clone I'd bet. Several of them in fact.

Same genre' ... isn't it cute that Obama says there were "not doubts" in his mind, etc. when relating his experience that day. Er...what is a "not doubt?" How does a "not doubt" get in to your mind? Or out of it? Does a "not doubt" turn in to an "isn't doubt" if negative ...oh, wait, "Not" is already negative ... it's so confusing, this English speaking stuff, eh.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Bulwer-Lytton gets a worse rap than he deserves. I discovered this at my in-laws place a couple years ago when I grabbed a random volume off a shelf and (as is my habit) started to read at a random page. "Intriguing phrasing, imaginative, a bit flighty style" I'm thinking, then I flip to the titlepage to see what I'm reading and H*ly Cr*p, it's by Bulwer-Lytton hisself.
Of course, I then had to paw through the rest of the volumes they had to find the infamous opening passage.
An hour later I decided it wasn't really to my taste, but it was absolutely not the hilarious waste of ink that my prejudice would have led me to expect.

Featherless Biped said...

It reads like a spoof of an intellectual with delusions of eloquence.