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To Kill the President: The Novel

Sounds like an interesting premise for a thriller, doesnít it, once you get over your moral hang-ups? Especially easy to do when the president in question is an over-the-top caricature of the current White House resident. Bad enough this fictional blowhard and bimbo connoisseur is distracted from his apoplectic Situation Room rant by the opportunity to grab a tempting piece of you-know-what. (Spoiler alert: heís intent on launching a first-strike nuclear attack on North Korea and China in response to an imagined insult from a Little Rocket Man doppelganger.) When his raging hormones settle down, a top priority is the design of a uniform that he can wear on public occasions to better reflect his role as Commander in Chief.

Written by Sam Bourne (get it?), the pseudonym for Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, To Kill the President was published by Harper-Collins in Britain in July. But so far, this Amazon UK and Germany best seller has failed to find an American publisher. Bourneís agent explained to the New York Times that, ďThe commercial view among publishers seems to be that people are living it and havenít got the head space for reading it. It is a lack of courage and imagination.Ē

That statement got my attention. My belief is that novelists, as well as all other creative artists, should strive for a louder voice in the public square, to push back against the current insanity and dysfunction in Washington. Was the lit biz chickening out? Or was it just a lousy book? I immediately ordered a used copy from Amazon (thatís the only way to buy it in the US).

Full disclosure: Iím not a thriller reader. Nonetheless, I think I can make an informed judgment that despite Freedland's heroic attempt to touch all the bases,To Kill the President is indeed a lousy thriller. But I doubt thatís the reason itís languishing unpublished.