A few weeks back, I was charged with reviewing the anonymous novel O. Almost immediately, I fired off a blog post pointing to a couple factual problems with the book’s marketing strategy, and speculating that the author was not Mark Salter, John McCain’s longtime literary scribe, on the basis of a single sentence’s syntax. I later followed with another blog review post, pointing out both that the book was better written than I first thought and that it was clearly written by someone who knew the inside of campaigns. But my mistake had already been made. Mark Halperin reports today that Salter is, indeed, the author.
Obviously, in retrospect, it is ludicrous to draw conclusions about any work based on the merits of a single clunky sentence. It would be like arguing that Salvador Dali is a realist for painting a basket of bread or that Robert DeNiro can’t act on the basis of a single movie–say Rocky and Bullwinkle. As I wrote before, the book is a fun read. I have not yet finished it, as I have been working on this week’s cover story. But my final review will be forthcoming.
Were I to have more holistically applied the one-sentence test, I could have just as well argued that Salter was the author. Here, from page 104, is an aide to the Republican candidate speaking:
“General,” Stillwell interrupted, “in the last election, O ran the biggest negative ad campaign against his opponent we have ever seen. And no one, no one in the press, none of the voters who were open to persuasion, held it against him or thought it said anything about his character.”
Come to think of it, I am pretty sure Salter told me basically the same thing, more or less every day for weeks, during the campaign.