Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Kodos

I like books that have a fresh take on things, and just in case you're an aspiring writer, please know that vampires-live-among-us is no longer a fresh take. What is a fresh take is the idea that on the day of his successor's inauguration, William Howard Taft disappeared from the face of the Earth, only to reappear in late 2011 with no sense of having done more than take a quick snooze. I heard about Jason Heller's novel because he writes for the Onion's AV Club, which is my current website of choice, and I thought this book sounded like a fun read. And it is!

Of course, there's the whole issue of getting acclimated to modern-day technologies and attitudes, but once Taft gets beyond that, he finds himself pulled back into the political arena, half against his will. Republicans love his pro-business stance. Democrats love his progressive social ideas. A third party rapidly coalesces around him, desperate for him to take another run at the White House. In the early twentieth century, he was a dud, but filtered through the lens of our ever-churning media cycle, he's turned into a rock star.

Ridiculously biased cable news commentary and vicious internet sniping are ripe for satire, of course, but Heller can do that in his sleep. What's truly remarkable is that Taft 2012 achieves more than just poking fun at our often absurd media and political system. It gives us an elbow to the ribs as a reminder of what democracy is actually supposed to be about, and paints Taft as a historical figure worth learning about, rather than just writing him off as that fat, milquetoast one with the giant bathtub.

Taft 2012: B+


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