On the day of the release of the new Hillary Clinton book, the line outside the bookstore was intense. People were camped out in sleeping bags shaped like the White House, wearing Hillary Clinton pajamas and hissing at anyone who tried to shout spoilers at them. (“I am only to the part where she leaves millions of cracks in the glass ceiling! Don’t tell me ANYTHING that happens after that!” “I don’t want to know who was REALLY responsible for Benghazi!”)
Fans of the series, which began in 1996 with the page-turning “It Takes A Village,” continued in 1998 with the children’s volume (set in the same world) “Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets” and 2000’s illustrated adventure “An Invitation to the White House: At Home with History,” had been on tenterhooks since 2003’s “Living History” ended on a cliffhanger, with it unclear whether the protagonist was going to make it all the way to the White House or not. The glass ceiling was cracked. Would it be broken? Also, what about that grandchild? Also, would there ever be dragons?
The new volume might have answers. Readers, dressed as their favorite characters from the saga, stood waiting outside the door, shaking with anticipation. The event was briefly disturbed by a fan who showed up to the release party dressed as Monica Lewinsky, a character about whom many fans of the saga have mixed feelings and who hasn’t played a major role in years.
“I have a theory,” one fan said. “I think this is the one where we find out it’s all a big conspiracy being run by the Bilderbergs.” He produced several hand-made drawings and took a reporter aside. He was still going on about the theory long after the store’s doors had opened.
“I really don’t want her to turn into a vampire in this one,” another fan added. “I hope that’s not where this is going.”
“I’m just so attached to these characters,” said another, sighing as she leafed through the thick volume. “I just don’t want anyone I care about to get killed in the scramble for the nomination.”
No, I am kidding, of course. This is not what happened. Most people on Earth, in fact, are not ravenously tearing down the doors of bookstores to get to the Hillary Clinton memoir. Most people are not insane. Or members of the press corps. I don’t think I’m repeating myself, but I might be. I went, in person, to a store and interviewed people, and most people not only were not buying copies of the book, but they actively did not want to, even when they liked Hillary and her policies.
Possibly this is because these books invariably follow a certain, well, formula.
“Hard Choices.” “Decision Points.” “Going Rogue.”
The thing about political books is there are so many of them. The Leader (or Aspiring Leader) in question is always on the cover. The Leader or Aspiring Leader wears an outfit with clean lines in bold, simple colors. Sometimes (especially if the Leader or Aspirant in question is a conservative) there is also a flag. There is an index. Spoiler Alert: It turns out, by the end of the book, that the things you agreed with were all because of the Leader’s tireless efforts, and the things that were bad were Someone Else’s fault. Usually. Also, there is always one passage that gets way more media attention than anyone anticipated.
The books are, on the whole, as interesting as any book ever can be when somebody has tried to write it so that it’s impossible to use against him later — which is to say, they have all the stylistic flair of the Wikipedia entry on graham crackers.
Not exactly the sort of thing to line up and down the block for.