Kakutani on ‘American Wife’

Oh, boy! It’s Michiko Kakutani taking on American Wife in the NYT today. You can almost hear the knife being sharpened.

But, hold on, the Mikey of book reviewers kind of likes it!

Turns out author Sittenfeld, who hates George W. Bush, likes his wife (she wrote an essay for Salon in January, 2004 called Why I love Laura Bush) and does a “nimble Job” of getting under Laura’s skin. She creates some imaginative scenes — “her account of a family gathering at the family’s Kennebunkport-like vacation home is wickedly hilarious” — but when she writes about George W., the author, begins “using [her] heroine as a sock puppet for her own views on the unhappy tenure of the Bush administration.”

Kakutani relates the book to Joe Klein’s 1996 Primary Colors which attracted “a lot of readers” (reminder: it was a major bestseller) because they “thought they were getting a roman à clef about Bill and Hillary Clinton.” Kakutani rarely speculates on a book’s potential popularity, but she predicts American Wife will have an appeal similar to Primary Colors, also attracting “a lot of readers.”

So far, library reserve patterns don’t reflect that. Since I checked yesterday, reserves have ticked up only slightly at four large library systems. There are now a total of 423 reserves on 166 copies (in both audio and print), which is slightly more than 2.5 per copy. 

American Wife

Curtis Sittenfeld

  • Hardcover: $26.00
  • Publisher: Random House (September 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1400064759
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400064755
  • Audio CD: Abridged, $34.95
  • Reader: Kimberly Farr
  • Publisher: Random House; (September 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0739323865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739323861

One Response to “Kakutani on ‘American Wife’”

  1. marie Says:

    My review of American Wife is coming out on my blog on Tuesday. I thought it was a pretty engrossing character study.