cover image George Bush, Dark Prince of Love: A Presidential Romance

George Bush, Dark Prince of Love: A Presidential Romance

Lydia Millet. Touchstone Books, $12.95 (164pp) ISBN 978-0-684-86274-3

The 41st president's gaffes are milked for all they're worth in Millet's (Omnivores) coy political satire. In four sections, one per presidential year, Rosemary--the brainy, obese ex-con whose memoirs these purport to be--models her life after the former president's. For example, when President Bush takes his revenge on turncoat U.S. client/dictator Manuel Noriega, Rosemary ruins the life of a cop, her enemy, by revealing his infidelities to his wife. Though she dreams of First Lady ""B.B.""'s fall from grace and her own subsequent romance with ""G.B.,"" Rosemary must settle for less in the short term, so she moves in with Russki, a septuagenarian Korean war vet. When she isn't wrangling with Russki, she spends most of her time in her ""war room"" talking to ""G.B."" on TV, contemplating a G.B. crucifix she has fashioned--""GHWB"" replacing ""INRI""--and firing off memos to the Casa Blanca. One such missive results in her detention by the FBI. When Rosemary inherits Russki's wealth by means of a falsified will, she moves to Washington and becomes a big-ticket Republican contributor in a vain attempt to get close to G.B. Rosemary's doxological rants thinly conceal Millet's views about what she sees as Bush's opportunism and narrow class loyalties, sometimes overpowering the narrative. Millet has fun juxtaposing crudities with pompous politicking: in one wild sequence, Rosemary eats a Hungry Man and plays ""Dos Perros"" with an illegal immigrant lover while Bush and Thatcher confer on Iraq. Rosemary later arranges the lover's deportation to Mexico, quoting G.B.: ""This will not stand."" Each short chapter is prefaced by one of President's Bush's memorably maladroit remarks. Didacticism aside, there are some real belly laughs in this odd story-so long as the reader's political sympathies match Millet's. (Jan.)