Mark Doten’s new novel, TRUMP SKY ALPHA (Graywolf, paper, ), is a funny book and a sad one, a bright one and a dark one, a distant sci-fi dystopia and a ripped-from-the-headlines tragedy. It imagines a world in which the president — the actual current president, albeit in fictional form — has ordered a nuclear strike and wiped out much of the world’s population, after which he travels over what remains of the blasted planet in an obnoxiously lavish airship, dispatching a stream of dunderheaded, self-justifying tweets as he goes.
A young female journalist named Rachel (working for a reconstituted version of this paper’s magazine) takes on an assignment to analyze the fate of topical satire in an apocalyptic world. She is a somewhat reluctant participant in the process, agreeing to write the article in exchange for the opportunity to visit the final resting place of her wife and daughter, both of whom were killed in the president’s Thanos-like extermination. In the process of sifting through the remnants of every meme, joke and viral comment, Rachel begins to piece together the outlines of a conspiracy that twines together the various uses of political humor as a weapon and the use of actual weapons.
Whew. Summarizing Doten’s novel (or even beginning to summarize it, for those are only the broad outlines) is not easy, and that’s because it isn’t meant to be. The book acts both as a novel and as a searching, tortured position paper on the use of media, message and, especially, satire in our time.
Political satire, of course, has existed almost as long as politics. When people with power act in ways that seem to run counter to good sense or commonly held ethical principles, what are people with less power supposed to do? They can revolt. They can suffer. Or, if they are writers, they can take up their pens against their sea of troubles. Each era has its satires: the Johnson administration got “MacBird!,” Barbara Garson’s mash-up of the Kennedy assassination with Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”; Nixon got, among many others, Philip Roth’s “Our Gang.”
This seems like a time that demands more of the same, and then some. It’s a time of crisis, in which America is at odds with its allies, susceptible to manipulation by its adversaries and mired in endless infighting. More than ever, it feels as if we need the glint of satire, not as the light at the end of the tunnel but as the light in the tunnel.
There has been no shortage of Trump satire, and while much of it has been on the small screen — this is a golden age, or at least a glittery one, for topical television comedy — some has been between the covers. Alec Baldwin joined forces with Kurt Andersen on “You Can’t Spell America Without Me,” which both extended its title with a lengthy subtitle (“The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President Donald J. Trump”) and extended Baldwin’s “Saturday Night Live” parody of the president into a more traditional Oval Office diary. The British author Howard Jacobson published “Pussy,” a scabrous satire that imagines Trump as a faltering scion of a powerful family. Satirists are even targeting beginning readers: The comedian Michael Ian Black published “A Child’s First Book of Trump,” and the writing staff of John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” created a book for Mike Pence’s pet rabbit Marlon Bundo. I even wrote a Trump book of my own, “Don Quixotic,” which collected a series of short fictions that were originally posted on social media, in discomfort and then disbelief, over the course of the 2016 election season.
But Trump satire can be a difficult row to hoe. For starters, Trump is almost impervious to it. An aspiring satirist might look at some of the president’s lesser Twitter typos, for example, and imagine more outlandish ones: He writes “boarders” instead of “borders”? That’s hilarious, but imagine if he couldn’t spell “hamburgers”! Or maybe it’s worth lampooning the president’s penchant for taking credit where credit isn’t due. What if he announced an Independence Day celebration as if he had invented the holi. … Oh. That happened? If reality consistently beats you to your punch, you’re not writing satire. You’re writing episode recaps ahead of time. It’s one of the reasons that many of the political skits on “SNL” these days use chunks of actual transcripts, heightening them slightly rather than starting with a fresh premise. It’s an open question whether Trump has truly descended into self-parody or whether he has just learned to co-opt the strategies of those who would use satire to hold him to account. (See: Giuliani, Rudolph W.) But what is a closed question is that his descent or co-optation swallows the process. Subjecting him to ridicule is like pushing tacks into one of those giant gummy bears. All your sharp points just end up lost in there.
So how can satire be heard in a climate like this? By becoming louder and crasser. Subtle jabs are increasingly replaced by sledgehammer blows, clever insinuations by clumsy insults. Couple that with the fact that the practitioners of satire, or what passes for it these days, have proliferated greatly. On almost any day, on almost any topic, social media disgorges tens of thousands of not-quite-funny, not-quite-insightful exercises in topical vitriol. They come from the right. They come from the left. They come from a seemingly bottomless well. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with outrage, it’s also not inherently artful. In fact, it works like a drug, ensuring that readers become resistant to anything without the equivalent levels of vitriol. (My book made Trump look like a fool at times, and at other times not, and people objected to the times that it did not. By sympathizing with him even for a minute, even in fiction, even for the purposes of trying to understand his thought process, I wasn’t doing enough to illustrate that he was evil. I was letting him off easy, I was part of the problem, an apologist, complicit or worse.)
Trump’s evident egomania, which seems in no danger of waning, also games the system so that satire cannot function correctly. The more perceptive satires not only speak truth to power, but also interrogate the societies that enabled that power to move into place. It’s not just a matter of identifying a culprit, but of turning a mirror to society, as in the finale of Virginia Woolf’s “Between the Acts,” when a theatrical pageant gives way to a group of actors onstage holding mirrors up to the audience. (I have always thought that Woolf’s description of the mirror-bearers — “malicious; observant; expectant; expository” — neatly defines the four corners of satirical thinking.)
Most Trump satire doesn’t implicate the rest of us. It implicates the rest of them, expressing shocked disbelief at the base that continues to back him despite his increasingly indefensible behavior. It labels them “other” and calls it a day. This leaves everyone at loggerheads. It makes of satire a frozen obelus, as dependent upon divisiveness as the president himself. Reflection and introspection are not inherently part of satire. Jonathan Swift, no amateur, wrote in his preface to “The Battle of the Books” that “satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own.” But without such things, Trump’s America is just two rows of gargoyles passing a microphone back and forth, never not scowling.
This brings us back to “Trump Sky Alpha.” Doten has set himself an ambitious agenda. He wants to satirize the president, but also to investigate the way that the president resists satire, and he has cannily constructed a fictional machine that both attacks the problem and pre-emptively defends itself against shortfalls or insufficiencies. Trump floats out of reach, surveying what he has rubbled, which includes thousands of attempts to hold him accountable. Sound familiar?
Doten’s machine is fueled by extensive research, largely on the origins and implications of the internet; the author’s acknowledgments list nearly a dozen books that helped him refine his thinking, including Frederic Jameson’s “The Geopolitical Aesthetic” and Janet Abbate’s “Inventing the Internet.” But Doten’s method carries the seeds of its own undoing. The density of his treatment is dizzying at times, and the difficulty of sifting through this (often brilliant) welter can inflate and elevate simpler elements. This can help the novel (Doten writes extremely moving scenes around Rachel and her suffering), but it can also hurt it, since the simpler element that becomes inflated and elevated is Trump himself.
The passages in which the president rambles on are not materially different from a hundred other Trump impersonations. They can feel a bit obvious, at least in comparison to the disturbing tapestry that surrounds them, which makes the fact that they offer pleasurable relief frustrating. In the end, Doten’s novel is both an illustration of how Trump and Trumpism have hamstrung public discourse and a set of instructions for untying ourselves: Remain vigilant. Remain skeptical. Question everything. Even the satires.B:
2019黄大仙无错精准资料【不】【远】【处】【叶】【星】【辉】【和】【小】【玲】【双】【双】【翻】【了】【白】【眼】。 “【这】【肖】【颖】【主】【持】【人】【有】【一】【套】。” 【叶】【星】【辉】【忍】【不】【住】【憋】【出】【了】【这】【一】【句】。 “【确】【实】。”【小】【玲】【也】【有】【些】【认】【同】。 【采】【访】【还】【在】【继】【续】。 【说】【完】【了】【铁】【义】，【本】【来】【吕】【维】【还】【以】【为】【肖】【颖】【会】【在】【谈】【谈】【赵】【巧】【巧】【的】，【毕】【竟】【赵】【巧】【巧】【现】【在】【可】【是】【世】【界】【级】【的】【顶】【级】【巨】【星】，【风】【靡】【全】【世】【界】【大】【半】【国】【家】，【更】【是】【有】【着】【欧】【洲】‘【东】【方】【红】【玫】【瑰】’【之】
【循】【环】【赛】【是】【晚】7【点】【开】【始】【的】。 【每】【一】【名】【获】【得】【争】【取】【世】【锦】【赛】【团】【体】【赛】【资】【格】【的】【球】【员】，【都】【要】【打】11【场】【比】【赛】，【每】【一】【场】【比】【赛】【都】【是】3【局】【两】【胜】，【每】【一】【局】【都】【是】6【分】【制】。 【完】【全】【是】【为】【世】【锦】【赛】【团】【体】【赛】【服】【务】【的】【比】【赛】。 【吴】【非】、【马】【良】、【许】【仙】、【樊】【望】【西】、【林】【地】【平】、【苏】【阳】、【冯】【天】【河】、**、**【池】、【曾】【蓓】【勋】、【曹】【青】、【梁】【忆】【宽】【十】【二】【人】，【每】【个】【人】【都】【要】【和】【其】【他】【人】【打】
【队】【长】【一】【听】【顿】【时】【扭】【头】【看】【了】【过】【去】。 【这】【小】【子】，【脑】【回】【路】【怎】【么】【如】【此】【清】【奇】？！ 【好】【像】···【真】【的】【可】【以】？ 【如】【果】【能】【够】【在】【这】【里】【杀】【掉】【龙】【族】··· 【这】【个】【想】【法】【刚】【从】【脑】【海】【里】【冒】【出】【来】【就】【被】【迅】【速】【否】【定】【了】。 “【不】【不】【不】，【龙】【族】【又】【不】【止】【他】【们】，【你】【忘】【了】【资】【料】【中】【还】【有】【更】【强】【大】【的】【龙】【族】【存】【在】【么】？【如】【果】【被】【发】【现】【是】【我】【们】【做】【的】，【恐】【怕】【明】【天】【就】【会】【被】【龙】【群】【爆】【发】，【成】
【第】【二】【百】【八】【十】【六】【章】 【张】【睿】【看】【着】【石】【碑】【上】【的】【名】【字】，【好】【像】【魔】【障】【一】【样】，【脚】【步】【不】【由】【自】【主】【的】【向】【前】【迈】【出】，【突】【然】【脚】【下】【失】【重】，【跌】【下】【了】【水】【池】。 “【扑】【通】”【一】【声】，【张】【睿】【掉】【入】【了】【水】【中】，【无】【论】【张】【睿】【如】【何】【的】【挣】【扎】【也】【无】【济】【于】【事】，【迅】【速】【的】【往】【水】【底】【沉】【去】，【意】【志】【模】【糊】，【昏】【迷】【了】【过】【去】。 【真】【是】【不】【敢】【想】【象】，***【竟】【然】【在】【水】【中】【昏】【迷】【了】。 【也】【不】【知】【过】【了】【多】【久】，【张】【睿】
【杨】【超】【越】【如】【今】【的】【人】【气】【可】【以】【说】【是】【非】【常】【高】【了】，【很】【多】【网】【友】【对】【这】【个】【耿】【直】【的】【小】【姑】【娘】【都】【是】【非】【常】【喜】【欢】【的】，【她】【率】【真】【耿】【直】，【性】【格】【十】【分】【的】【好】，【长】【相】【也】【是】【非】【常】【漂】【亮】【可】【爱】【的】，【这】【张】cos【露】【娜】【的】【照】【片】【可】【以】【说】【是】【非】【常】【惊】【艳】【了】，【让】【人】【眼】【前】【一】【亮】。2019黄大仙无错精准资料【如】【果】【真】【是】【宫】【钰】【给】【的】，【那】【她】【的】【目】【的】【又】【是】【什】【么】？ 【她】【一】【直】【想】【要】【慕】【雅】【死】，【甚】【至】【为】【了】【争】【夺】【王】【位】【不】【惜】【连】【自】【己】【喜】【欢】【却】【一】【直】【没】【有】【得】【到】【的】【凌】【熠】【辰】【都】【给】【毁】【灭】【了】，【在】【白】【霜】【霜】【冒】【认】【的】【情】【况】【下】，【她】【怎】【么】【会】【不】【处】【理】【掉】，【反】【而】【还】【给】【白】【霜】【霜】【好】【处】【呢】？ 【这】……【不】【太】【科】【学】！ 【想】【来】【想】【去】，【也】【就】【只】【有】【一】【个】【可】【能】。 【她】【明】【知】【道】【白】【霜】【霜】【是】【假】【的】，【但】【是】【故】【意】【默】
【坎】【特】【利】【某】【个】【偏】【远】【地】【区】【的】【地】【底】【宫】【殿】： 【传】【说】【兰】【尔】【斯】，【巴】【帝】【利】，【坎】【特】【利】【三】【大】【公】【国】【的】【英】【雄】，【简】【称】‘【三】【英】【雄】’【的】【大】【贤】【者】【之】【一】，【坎】【特】【利】【的】‘【精】【灵】【之】【光】·【卡】【修】·【雷】【恩】’【的】【鬼】【魂】【还】【在】【这】【个】【消】【亡】【的】【宫】【殿】【徘】【徊】，【以】【及】【贝】【西】【莉】【亚】【的】【祖】【父】，【前】【魔】【法】【师】【协】【会】【会】【长】，【三】【人】【齐】【名】。 【最】【开】【始】【就】【素】【不】【相】【识】【的】【三】【人】【联】【名】【讨】【伐】【了】【当】【时】【祸】【害】【极】【大】【的】‘【曜】【黑】【龙】【王】
【盖】【简】【单】【的】【房】【子】，【这】【都】【难】【不】【倒】【大】【家】，【必】【竟】【他】【们】【这】【帮】【人】【以】【前】【在】【老】【家】【的】【时】【候】，【也】【是】【干】【过】【这】【些】【活】【儿】【的】。【特】【别】【是】【赵】【金】【德】，【来】【广】【州】【后】【还】【在】【工】【地】【干】【过】【一】【阵】【呢】，【对】【工】【地】【的】【一】【众】【事】【宜】【非】【常】【熟】【悉】。 【大】【家】【七】【拼】【八】【凑】【地】【筹】【了】【一】【笔】【钱】，【又】【从】【老】【家】【拉】【来】【一】【些】【老】【乡】、【亲】【戚】，【包】【工】【队】【就】【算】【是】【正】【式】【成】【立】【了】。 【万】【事】【开】【头】【难】，【由】【于】【他】【们】【是】【新】【成】【立】【的】【公】【司】，【人】
【所】【幸】【的】【是】，【他】【们】【一】【行】【人】【很】【快】【就】【被】【附】【近】【白】【石】【岭】【的】【探】【子】【发】【现】，【盘】【问】【了】【一】【番】【后】【边】【叫】【了】【几】【辆】【马】【车】【带】【他】【们】【过】【去】，【不】【然】，【等】【江】【凡】【生】【跟】【着】【这】【些】【鱼】【虾】【走】【到】【白】【石】【岭】，【可】【能】【要】【两】【三】【天】【之】【后】【了】。 【拉】【车】【的】【马】【也】【是】【妖】【兽】，【不】【过】【却】【已】【经】【开】【了】【灵】【智】，【带】【着】【众】【人】【一】【路】【飞】【驰】，【很】【快】【就】【到】【了】【白】【石】【山】【之】【下】。 【敖】【月】【恭】【恭】【敬】【敬】【地】【走】【了】【上】【去】，【把】【礼】【单】【交】【给】【山】【脚】【下】【的】