“The Mueller Report” is about a man who wanted to find information, but really, I think, what he found was the American Dream. It is exactly like “The Great Gatsby,” a book about a man who pretends to have more money than he actually has and turns out to owe everything he has to sinister forces but for whom you ultimately feel pity because he is lonely even though he has a big house, in that both that book and this one are about a narrator who is trying to find out information about one thing and ultimately discovers something else.
Basically, the American Dream is elusive to lots of people, and some people would say that it does not exist at all, which is also what people in this book say about collusion, which shows parallelism.
One theme of “The Mueller Report” was that it contains 448 pages. That is a lot of pages, and it is very impressive to read a book that long, as, of course, I did. But many of the words are covered up in thick black bars, which makes the reading go fast because of pacing. I would argue that the bars are even a character. In the writings of Kurt Vonnegut, a large asterisk drawn in thick black ink stands for a part of the human body. I am not sure what part it would be in this book.
The colors red, green, blue and white also recur repeatedly throughout this book. Green symbolizes spring, renewal, money and envy. It can also symbolize Personal Privacy. Yellow symbolizes cowardice. It also refers to portions of the book that deal with Investigative Techniques, but I think it can mean both things at the same time. Red is usually blood or anger but here alludes to the Grand Jury, whose presence was felt throughout this book.
This whole book is an example of synecdoche, in which a part stands for the whole. For instance, you say “wheels” when you mean “a car,” or “the unredacted portions of ‘The Mueller Report’” when you mean “The Mueller Report.” Synecdoche is a useful rhetorical device and I like it a lot, even if it is not one of the ones Winston Churchill mostly used.
The conflicts of Man vs. Man and Man vs. Society are very prominent conflicts which are demonstrated throughout this book. Sometimes, a character will find himself opposed to other characters, who will try to stop him by just not doing what he has asked or by pretending they are confused by his request or sometimes by resigning. The Deep State, in this book, can represent society.
One way in which this book did not succeed was its lack of female characters. Ivanka Trump appeared briefly, but her character was not as developed as it could have been. Hillary Clinton was, in some ways, the villain of this book, according to some, but I think if it was their intention for her to be the villain, they should have made her do more. They just say she is crooked without stating why, which is an example of telling without showing.
Throughout the book, the character of Donald Trump was looking for protection, which we see from the fact that the word “protect” occurs more than 80 times in the course of the book, although some of those times, I am now realizing, are at the top of the page next to the title of the report. But mostly they are in the text. He wants protection, which is demonstrated by him saying, “‘You were supposed to protect me,’ or words to that effect” to Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, whose name is a telling reference to lost causes.
This book examines the theme of protection through all three types of irony. In his quest for protection, Donald Trump makes an allusion to the play “Angels in America” when describing what a good protector should do (not take notes, just like Roy Cohn). This is an example of verbal irony. Secondly, the character Michael Cohen also says he wants to protect the president, but some characters disagree that this is what his actions accomplish (situational irony). And lastly, when Donald Trump says, “I’m f---ed,” it is an example of dramatic irony, because he does not yet know that Congress is going to protect him and never take any action that could possibly lead to him not being in office anymore, which is something we as the reader already know.
A character I really liked was George Papadopoulos, who was referred to as “Greek Guy” in a footnote to show comic relief. It is good to have some characters whom you do not have to take seriously, especially if the book is long.
The narrator seemed very ambivalent. Sometimes I thought, am I supposed to trust this narrator? Sometimes the narrator seemed on the verge of saying something very profound, but then there would be another black box. Black boxes can also symbolize censorship.
I found the black boxes distracting but also moving. This book asks, in a way, are we not all trapped in boxes, unable to connect? I think the boxes were very indicative. Sometimes the box looked like a Tetris that was successful, as on page 44. Sometimes the box looked like a brutalist beret. I think the boxes were a kind of Rorschach test for the readers to see whatever they are inclined to in them. I saw the craven darkness at the heart of everything. This is like in the famous book “Heart of Darkness.”
Also they symbolized the American Dream.
One thing that I liked about the book was that it let you draw your own conclusion about what people’s motives were and whether they were wrong to do what they did. I think it will be fun to discuss that part a lot.
I did not identify with any of the characters in this book.
I would recommend this book, in spite of how it ended.