cover image People's Choice

People's Choice

Jeff Greenfield. Putnam Publishing Group, $22.95 (309pp) ISBN 978-0-399-13812-6

ABC news commentator Greenfield gives a deft satiric spin to his first novel, a cautionary tale about the electing of the U.S. president. The country is set into a constitutional tailspin two days after the November election when President-elect MacArthur Foyle, a conservative Republican, dies as a result of a rodeo accident. Vice President-elect Ted Block, universally acclaimed as ``a step or two slow out of the cognitive gate,'' looks to be a shoo-in for the Oval Office until a renegade member of the electoral college, Dorothy Ledger, an office manager of a Michigan Bank & Trust, balks at having to vote for the moderate veep. Ledger, joined by a New Jersey plumber, a Texas history professor and a CalTech computer-whiz dropout, orchestrates a campaign that leads to other electors willing to change or withhold their votes. Meanwhile, a menagerie of cynics and opportunists led by D.C. ``political powerbroker'' Jack Petitcon, the megawealthy, self-styled ``Hebrew from the Bayou,'' and W. Dixon Mason, a rhyming, dissembling, African American preacher, moves toward endorsing its own favorite candidate. Suspense depends on who will prevail: VP-elect Block, the ailing Democratic incumbent or the candidate of splintered factions. After a tense electoral vote, an unexpected yet honorable resolution is reached. Characterization sometimes takes a back seat to plot machinations here but, for the most part, what The Player did for Hollywood, The People's Choice, in its unabashed flailing of the American system, does for presidential politics. Film rights to Savoy Pictures; author tour. (Sept.)