cover image Leap Year

Leap Year

Steve Erickson. Simon & Schuster, $18.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-671-67134-1

The 1988 presidential campaign serves as Erickson's springboard for a quirky free-floating meditation on the bankruptcy of American politics. He berates the Right for ``false faith'' and for grossly deforming the conservative tradition; he chides the Left for too often hating its own country. The apocalyptic tone and surreal techniques of his novels ( Tours of the Black Clock , etc.) find their way into this campaign jaunt: pursuing Bush, Dukakis, Hart, Jackson et al., he keeps running into the specter of Sally Hemings, the slave of Thomas Jefferson. Hemings, in this narrative, is Jefferson's sex partner; her torrid confessions are intended to highlight the statesman's moral failure and white America's tendency to self-betrayal. Erickson also rambles about the ``nuclear imagination,'' an ability to stare into the abyss, but he is most effective delivering scathing attacks on nearly all the 1988 presidential contenders and on the Bush administration. (Oct.)