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More than you wanted to know (or imagine) about Laura Bush

July 8, 2008 |  5:52 pm

Laura Bush, American Wife: Curtis Sittenfeld's forthcoming novel 'American Wife' tells the story of a librarian whose husband happens to become president If you thought you could live out the final days of Bush's term without being forced to imagine the man in the sack, think again.

Curtis Sittenfeld's forthcoming novel "American Wife" tells the story of the Laura Bush-esque Alice Blackwell, a librarian whose husband happens to become president. No unpleasant details left behind, judging from excerpts posted by Radar Magazine (really, read at your own risk). The author has previously written quite (to borrow a Bush-y term) reality-based fiction about the better-off, and now she seems all the more eager to capitalize on fiction that isn't quite fiction. Republican reaction isn't hard to predict, but The Plank too called it "tawdry and gimmicky."

But the book won't be all provocation, judging from an old Salon piece by Sittenfeld unequivocally titled "Why I love Laura Bush":

Much of the public frustration with Laura seems to stem from her perceived passivity, especially in light of widespread assumption that she's significantly more liberal than George Bush. But what, I asked the people I know, is she supposed to do? Their answers ranged from "drive a wooden stake through her husband's skull" to "poison him."

Clearly, liberals' visceral loathing of George Bush transfers into a loathing of Laura as well. But that transference strikes me as reductive and even sexist. Because here's the thing: Both the new biography about Laura Bush and Laura Bush herself are a lot more complicated than they initially appear.

As the [Ann] Gerhart book proves, Laura Bush is a true role model. She's smart and curious about the world. She's sincere and down-to-earth and compassionate. She's both confident and modest, she knows who she is, and she doesn't try to prove anything.

Sounds like we're in not for a book of romantic and sexual speculation, as the Radar excerpts imply and which might have been fun in a car crash sort of way, but rather for something that lives up to its title -- examining what it means to be the archetypal wife.

*Photo courtesy Getty Images.

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