Scorched Earth: A Political Love Story

Stuart Stevens, Author
Stuart Stevens, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $21 (276p) ISBN 978-0-87113-582-7
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Ribald political satire and a mocking use of standard suspense themes like sibling rivalry, lust and the battle between the sexes distinguish this first novel from sometime travel-writer Stevens (Night Train to Turkistan; Malaria Dreams). Matt Bonney, a prominent political consultant, has agreed to mastermind a colorful Southern governor's campaign to represent his state in the U.S. Senate. Complications arise, however, when Matt's brother, Luke, a member of the House of Representatives, declares that he too will run for the seat. The brothers face off, leaving Matt's wife, Lisa, who's also a congressperson, and the brothers' father, a former governor, caught in the middle. Employing an iridescent supporting cast of political professionals and journalists, Stevens skillfully lampoons the lifestyles of politicians, professional campaigners and camp followers. Since he never indicates to which parties his characters belong, or to what ideologies they hew, their lack of all conviction appears absolute. Meanwhile, the deep South where the race takes place remains anonymous, enabling the author to create an orginal amalgam of Southern quirks and customs. (Nov.)
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