cover image Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus

Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus

Matt Taibbi. Spiegel & Grau, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-0-399-59246-1

Taibbi (The Divide) collects his writings on the 2016 presidential election published in Rolling Stone, providing a cohesive narrative arc for the upset electoral college victory of Donald Trump. Taibbi opens the book with an annotated excerpt from his 2008 book, The Great Derangement, to highlight its prescience. This gambit doesn’t quite pay off: the footnotes distract the reader from making their own connections and at times make points of startling superficiality. When the book moves to his original reporting, from August 2015 through post-election analysis in November 2016, the book sparks. Taibbi, a writer of striking intelligence and bold ideas, is as hilarious as he is scathing. The book is strikingly partisan, and the left-of-center readers most likely to laugh out loud will find their mirth tinged with chagrin that’s hard to digest so soon after the recounted events. The one weakness of the essays themselves lies in their criticisms of the news media, which never fully grapple with Taibbi’s own role in that group. As opinion journalism, this book will infuriate as many as it will amuse. Readers new to Taibbi will regret not reading his reporting as events unfolded, as his analysis is equal parts entertaining and enlightening. Agent: Lydia Wills, Lydia Wills LLC. (Feb.)