Share for friends:

Our Gang (2001)

Our Gang (2001)

Book Info

3.39 of 5 Votes: 1
Your rating
0375726845 (ISBN13: 9780375726842)

About book Our Gang (2001)

It helps to know about (or remember) the administration of Richard M. Nixon to laugh out loud as I did while reading Roth's great satire, but it's not necessary. Our Gang certainly satirized Nixon (as well as Spiro Agnew, several Democrats, and a cadre of famous news reporters and commentators), but far beyond that, it satirizes cynical political opportunism that uses rhetoric that sounds reasonable to twist reason into unrecognized train-wreckage, no matter the time or place.The book opens with Trick E. Dixon's stated position in favor of the rights of the unborn (as actually stated in a quote from Richard M. Nixon at the beginning of the 1994 edition I read). He plans to show his support by introducing a Constitutional Amendment giving them the vote, expecting to secure their votes for himself. It rises to his "wag the dog" attack on Copenhagen, created to distract voters from a Boy Scout protest that he "decisively" stomps down. Dixon (unlike Nixon) is assassinated, but the double-talk or Orwellian White House Spokesmen and wily politicians deny the obvious until it can no longer be ignored.Throughout, Dixon and his advisers pull all of the moves we might decry in today's politics. The media goes along blandly, asking predictable questions that allow more twisting of words into bits and pieces of good-sounding nonsense. One difference today is that more of the political operatives are part of the media today (think Limbaugh, Fox News). All is revealed as a circus of absurdity designed to distract voters from reality while consolidating power to Tricky Dixon (but name your least or most favorite politician or world leader to fill in the blank).The final chapter of Roth's wonderful book might explain the post-Nixon rise of Fundamentalism in general and the Tea Party in particular. In the final chapter, Dixon has descended into Hell and debates Satan in an attempt to win an "election" for the office of Devil. To explain today's (fill in the Fundamentalist Political Movement of the Religion of Your Choice Here), Dixon must have won. His new programs are now evident amid the religious distortions, hypocrisy, and viciousness of this surging Fundamentalism.Calling for "bold new programs in Evil that will overturn God's kingdom and plunge men into eternal death," he goes on to point out that a major part of the problem is that "at least one half of the people presently on longer believe in the existence of Hell, let alone its influence in world affairs. And maybe Satan is satisfied that the Devil, the highest official in the underworld, once the very symbol of nefariousness to millions, is considered in the upper regions to have absolutely no power at all over the decisions made there by men." Fundamentalists of every persuasion seem determined to re-connect us to concepts of the Devil, Satan, and the Evil influences of not-their-belief not-their-way-of-living. Dixon apparently won that election Roth hints at, and his minions are on the loose here and abroad, in terrorist circles and Tea Party hypocrisies, trying to get more than half of us to once again fear the Devil, as only the Devil would want us to do.

How do you rate a top-notch author who writes from his vehement, political heart? While the style is creative, humorous, and digging, it's hard to get past the bullying.We all know who it's about, and the storyline is deserved, but is it within the concept of creative writing?We all know Roth's penchant for satire, and we have all experienced his brilliant capture of our inner thoughts, the laying of them on the dissecting table, and his driving, personal need to exonerate some Freudian guilt that he never had control over. Nevertheless, --not the great American novel, not even Roth at his best, but, intuitive and cutting. Nixon had it coming.On a personal note: I read this, finally, after so-many-years? And I had been a Nixon supporter. I confess: I was young, driven to passionate conservatism (even in college, when you're not supposed to be), and I was a graduate taking on the world, anxious for change--Ike was too modest and Kennedy was giving away the world and our personal rights; McCarthy was just a victim of poor advice and avarice. Nixon was a "Returner" to the solid, rock-hard American path; I was young, healthy, employable--what did I know? Nixon was my man! (In more recent years, it would be Mitch Daniels.) A clear, straight path to Caucasian, capitalistic control of the world!But there was a human failure in that: a desire to lead. to be rich, to control, to defeat and conquer! and somehow, I'd avoided that current of thinking. The wisdom of years, if allowed, mellows one. I soon realized that Utopia can't be approached by one road. Roth reminds me of that, but you have to read ALL of Roth--because that's his direction--to come to that conclusion. That's what led me to burn "My Man Mitch" signs and to ask for Nixon's quiet removal, and to avoid "Tea Party"--but never to completely embrace JFK and all socialism.

Do You like book Our Gang (2001)?

Okay, I've had some time to think about this book. I know political satires are a dime-a-dozen, but this one works. Here are my thoughts:Even though it was written almost 40 years ago, and about a president that was less than decorous, I think it still has much clout concerning politics and politicians today. (That's both side of the aisle for those wondering.) We've seen how inadequate our elected officials are and, worse, just how incompetent they can be. I think that was the point of this novel. Sure Nixon and his staff were easy targets. Watergate. Vietnamization. Peace talks that did anything but bring about a peaceful resolution. Even Nixon's personality provided all the fodder needed to razz and scorn a political system riff with moral ambiguity. That being said, Roth brilliantly evokes a sense of timelessness to this tale. He warns us that there is always going to be a Trick E. in the White House. And too boot, there is always going to be a supporting cast that bumbles through charade after charade trying to invoke a sense of righteousness for the American people via the Highest Office in the Land. Political commentary aside, this novel was hilarious. In one episode, the National Guard battles the Boy Scouts of America. Three scouts are killed in the process and Trick E. tries to rationalize why the Guardsmen had a duty and right to defend themselves. I hate writing spoilers, so don't take my word for it and go and read this chapter in the book. It's chapter three. If you are not on the ground laughing, check your pulse. In another instance, after Trick E. has been assassinated, the way Roth handles the political communications is priceless. I was only three when the Actor was shot, so I can't really give any firsthand accounts of what an attack on a president does to a nation, but I have seen how all the recent debacles from Clinton to Obama have been played out in the media. Whenever something happens, there are channels and channels of people trying to send out information. Not all of this information is true; sometimes, the information that is sent out is only a smoke screen to bide some time. Roth, through sardonic humor, illustrates this beautifully. However, there is one downfall to this novel. In the last chapter Trick E. is debating Satan and is trying to show the demons of Hell that he would be a better leader than the Prince of Darkness. For me, this gets a bit heavy-handed. Instead of wrapping up a hilarious novel, Roth goes for one more joke and fails. Perhaps you’ll enjoy this chapter. Because of all the laughs that the book provided, I am overlooking my criticisms and giving the book my highest honor: It will be reread in the future.

This marvelous book chronicles the abuse of language. Readers familiar with Orwell's "Politics and the English Language," or with the liberal critique of Richard Nixon ("I don't think we can clearly nail Nixon as a liar," a Democrat congressional staffer once remarked, " although he undoubtedly is one in this instance, as in all others.") will laugh long and loud as "Tricky Dixon" employs every imaginable form of sly, slippery innuendo... against Boy Scouts, Denmark, and likely 1972 opponent"Teddy Charisma."Nor is Roth's acid pen limited to savaging the Dixon administration. Television "journalists" ("Erect Severhead" is my favorite) are depicted as equally culpable for the debasement of communication and thus necessarily of democracy.As another reviewer here put it, "it is easy to forget how damn funny Phillip Roth can be when he wants." And also how satire can be the most potent poltical weapon of all.

I have loved pretty much everything from this writer so far (but not this book...)It was written at the time of Richard Nixon's presidency and the main character is "Trick E. Dixon," an obvious caricature. References are also made to numerous real politicians--some using real names, and other famous figures using spoof names like John F. Charisma (a.k.a. John F. Kennedy). The book shows a demented Tricky devolving into greater and greater madness until the last chapter where he actually gives the Devil himself a run for his money--that part was brilliant but overall the book was a disappointment to me.I understand there was much to criticize and dislike about Nixon, but this seemed too overtly political. Therefore, it does not have the same timeless quality as Philip Roth's other works I have read so far.I did not quite understand the point of it other than character assassination.
—Evyn Charles

download or read online

Read Online

Write Review

(Review will shown on site after approval)

Other books by author Philip Roth

Other books in category Fiction