I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
Much as Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump felt important, so too does this book. Assholes felt a little more gleefully malicious in its humor: the argument, for example, about whether he was an asshole or an assclown. Don't get me wrong: the author nailed Trump, and did so backing up his argument with facts and clear definitions of the two words. But again, as much as he protested that he wanted to bring people together, well, it felt too happy to viciously mock Trump to be that kind of book. (It was, in fact, a book I would consider for anyone who doesn't like Trump. If they do, this book will only make them this the author is a hater and that he had a grudge against Trump and all those ways that Trump gaslights people into living in his own alternate reality full of alternative facts.)
This book feels a little more even handed. Yes, the author is wary of - and weary of - Trump, and a little bit of cynicism seeps through. Yes, he does make fun of Trump. Yes, he's disgusted by Trump's attitude towards women and minorities. However, what Mark Singer has done is spend time with Trump and then researched Trump, and then written a book about Trump. He's seen it firsthand, read it and believed all these things to be true based on his own experiences with Trump. Trump would argue, and have you believe, that Mark Singer is out to make him look bad. Instead, it is Trump that makes himself look bad. Mark Singer is a believer in truth, and yes, of skewering the rich and powerful who are full of themselves. What I mean is: he'd be far less successful in his skewering of Trump had The Donald not given him so much rich material to work with. I can't help but being reminded of the Saturday Night Live skit in which Alex Baldwin's Trump pouts that the media is making him look bad. (He's in a debate with Kate McKinnon's Clinton.) When the moderator asks him how they're doing this, he retorts that it's by taking the things he does and says and putting them on TV and in the newspapers. Singer does just this: he simply reports what is. His bias is clear, and he does poke at Trump throughout the book. He doesn't seem to take the same glee that James does in adding to the walking dumpster fire that is Trump, however.
And I don't want you to get me wrong: I did like Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump very much. I was feeling more vicious then myself, my pain at Trump's presidency too raw to do anything but snicker at James' clever barbs. I wasn't in the mood this time, though, and so this book just hit the spot. Much like Assholes, this book is small, and not just in page size. It's more of a hardcover in a mass market size, which means it's not only slim, it's extremely short on word count. (Possibly one of the things that keeps them from being malicious. Assholes, as I remember, was slightly longer.) I wanted facts. I wanted to read something that I knew Trump disapproved of, because I have not only free speech, but the freedom to read what I want. (With some exceptions in both case: as Trump is finding out, free speech doesn't mean the right to incite violence at, say, rallies. In much the same way, the written word shouldn't incite violence or place people in danger.) It was a balm, a reminder of how many people are out there, who put themselves in danger by speaking out against Trump. (Singer recounts one woman reporter who calls him a thousandaire, and in response Trump sent back one of her columns, having scrawled Face of a Dog across her photograph. Another estimated his worth - and it did not please Trump that he felt lowballed by this guess. He sued the author of that book.)
It was a quick read, well written, plainly spoken, and all the more starkly honest in the way that it exposed Trump's lies. I wouldn't so much call it a pleasant read as one necessary for me: I was feeling a little depressed, and I wanted to read something of great import. This fit that bill. And it has motivated me to be more active, reading, instead of playing games and feeling crappy about not doing much today. I did my makeup, cut my nails, and painted them. (I have Mystique themed nail polish by my favorite person who does fandom and Jewish related polishes. I love FedoraHarp so much, and after half of this book and her nail polish, I was feeling far, far more chipper!)
This is the good thing I did for myself today: I read this book. I fought against Trump by becoming more knowledgeable about how works, and how he thinks, and I fought against him by not allowing him to gaslight me because I know now. This was a must read - for me. I would never suggest that anyone who is against Trump must read any books about him. For me, knowledge is one of my main ways to fight against something sometimes, and in this case, it's one of the ways that I've chosen to fight his brand of fascism. I needed to do something about it today and I did. Yay me! (Partly for all those reasons, partly for recognizing what I needed and giving myself what I needed to feel better about myself. It's not something I'm normally good at.)
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some Aquaman and the first in Danielewski's The Familiars series. I think I'm gonna indulge me some in that.