Cottonwood

Raymond D. Strother, Author
Raymond D. Strother, Author Dutton Books $18.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-525-24952-8
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
Strother, who was Gary Hart's campaign manager, has a sharp satiric eye. In his hugely entertaining debut, a young reporter with big dreams embarks on a political vaudeville tour and journey of self-examination. After spending most of his childhood with an indifferent uncle, Sonny Simmons adopts a new name--Christian Ahab--and becomes a campus hero in college, where he develops a reputation as a brilliant reporter and wins himself a wife, Darleen, a baby and big bills. Years later a story he writes about a lobbying effort involving a whores-for-votes scandal wins him the attention of the whoremaster himself, Louisiana state senator ``Big Jim'' DeBleaux. Writing publicity releases for the massive, Rabelaisian power broker gradually turns the beleaguered reporter toward a career in political consulting. To establish a reputation, Christian persuades Big Jim to help him run a small-time lobbyist and big-time drunk, Hugh Conklin, for the U.S. Senate. The hard-won $50,000 from Big Jim is the first step in Christian's ``Cottonwood Plan''; however, ensuing steps, prove far more daunting--and, often, hilarious. Drying out Hugh is a big one, but so is managing the ``steering committee,'' a ragtag group of drunks and pot-smokers. Assorted sexual adventures, Darleen's temper, Big Jim's threats and Machiavellian strategems add to an unforgettable Senate race. Its winner, no doubt, is the reader. (Feb.)
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