Every Man a King

Bill Kauffman, Author Soho Press $17.95 (227p) ISBN 978-0-939149-26-1
This witty, splenetic fiction debut charts the brief rise and long fall of a Reagan-era neoconservative. From a small town in western New York, John Huey (named after Huey Long) Ketchum escapes to become an embittered underling on the staff of a revered, constantly intoxicated New York senator. Moving on to a rightist think tank, he's able to launch a promising career as a political columnist, larding his pieces with apocryphal anecdotes about his ``grandpappy'' Fred. But at the pinnacle of Huey's early success, an appearance on Face the Nation , he utters a racial slur on the air; the resulting firestorm blasts him out of politics forever and back to his hometown of Batavia. The novel's second half, in which the destroyed young man finds true love with a low-born factory worker named Wanda, lacks the sting of the Washington scenes, all of which are shot through with a seemingly inexhaustible dose of venom. How much of the novel is autobiography--Kauffman is a former Senate staffer and journalist who now lives in Batavia--is anybody's guess, but his devastating sketches of barely disguised politicos and institutions are unfailingly funny, and his portrayal of the repulsive young comer in their midst is just as harsh. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
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