My extremely smart and funny fiction-writer friend, Tod Goldberg has a thing he does every year on his blog called 12 days of lists. I’ve decided to shamelessly steal this idea and tweak it for WLA. From now until New Year’s eve I’ll be posting lists—a new one every day or so. (I urge you to check out Tod’s lists too.
Some of the lists will be political and social justice-y. Some will be far, far more frivolous. Some will be liberal- leaning (like the one below), some not. Okay, here’s the first one:
This past Saturday night I was at the LA writer-clogged party for Red Hen Press and decided to ask a bunch of novelists and poets (and one composer) which of the presidential candidates they thought would make the best fictional characters. Here’s what they said:
1. MIKE HUCKABEE by Kate Gale
Kate is the editor of Red Hen Press, and The Los Angeles Review. She’s also the author of five books of poetry, the editor of four anthologies and she is now writing operatic librettos that have been performed at such venues as Disney Hall, and the New York City Opera.
Okay, as a fictional character I’d choose Huckabee because he’s the most ridiculous. So many of his beliefs are so completely out of touch with the majority of the American people. I’d use him in a libretto because librettos are all about extremes. In opera people are going to die, they’re going cheat on their wives, do the wrong thing, and generally behave badly. Huckabee would be a great character in an opera libretto.
2. RUDY GIULIANI by Don Davis
Don is a notable film composer best known for the landmark avant-garde scoring of the three Matrix films. Most recently, Don has been composing operas with Kate Gale (above).
Giuliani is the obvious choice. Rudy would be perfect for a James Elroy hard-boiled type of noir novel because he’d be the Mafiosi head of the police department who kicks the shit out of everyone
3. HILLARY CLINTON by Daryl Glenn
Daryl Glenn writes short fiction
Hillary because she has a such a colorful, wide-ranging past. She’s a larger than life character, and representative of the mysterious qualities that you find in great fictional characters.
4. GEORGE BUSH by Bart Edelman
Bart is an LA poet and professor with five highly-regarded books of poetry, the most recent “The Last Mojito.”
Well, can I pick a character I’ve already written about? He’s not a candidate, he’s the President. In my latest book, I wrote a poem called “Little Daddy’s Thanksgiving,” about George Bush. All the psychological material that’s been worked out in this man’s mind with regard to his father, and the whole father son relationship….it’s fascinating.
5. BARACK OBAMA by Aimee Liu
Aimee is a best-selling novelist (“Flash House”), memoirist, and nonfiction writer (most recently, “Gaining”) NOTE: She wasn’t at the party but we chatted about it all the next day.)
Given what I write, I would pick Obama. Because of his mixed background, there’s just so much more to work with. And he’s loaded with contradictions—living overseas and having that perspective…..having the perspective of a mixed race background….having experienced multiple religions….That’s all fertile stuff for a character in a novel. The more complex, the better the character.
6. HILLARY CLINTON by Loraine Despres
Loraine is a former TV writer (Dynasty, The Waltons, Love Boat, and Knots Landing and, most famously, the “Who Shot JR?” episode of Dallas). Now she has turned best-selling Southern chic lit novelist ( make that smart chic lit).
Hillary would make a perfect heroine for one of my novels because she’s such a force of nature. Yet she always had to take a back seat because she was married to a governor and then to the president. But now she can come out on her own. I’d use Mitt Romney as her bÃƒÂªte noire
7. HILLARY CLINTON by Carl Eastlake
Carl is a TV writer/ producer who specializes in science fiction (“Earth: Final Conflict,” “Outer Limits”).
I think Hilary because she’s so tragically complicated. The very fact of her early brilliance when she was student body president at Wellesley. But then being married to such an accomplished politician has meant that she’s been so imbued with the technology of modern campaigns, and it has tragically compromised her as a person, even though she may be one of the best people running.
8. BARACK OBAMA by Tony Barnstone
Tony is a poet with four books of poetry out, and a new one on the way. His latest is called the Golem of Los Angeles
I’d say Barack Obama because he’s a black man running for president in a country that kills black leaders. He somebody with something of a Muslim background in a country that’s at war with radical Islam. Yet he’s running for president and doing damn well. How does he do that? Part of it has to do with the cultural hypocrisy that says a light skinned black is somehow more acceptable. And because his father’s directly from Kenya he’s doesn’t come out of the American tradition of slavery. So somehow he’s escaped our whole history. So in some odd way Barack Obama is at the core of American racism and cultural warfare, and yet somehow he’s stepping outside of it.
8. BARACK OBAMA by Mark Cull
Mark is a short fiction writer, and the co-founder and publisher of Red Hen Press, one of California’s best literary presses.
I’d write a piece of speculative fiction about Obama about the first few weeks of his presidency. It would be tragic. He’d be martyred in much the same way as Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy.
9.. JOHN MC CAIN by Jamey Hecht
Jamey is a smart new LA poet
I would write about McCain because he’s a tragic figure. He paid an enormous price for his survival and achieved this remarkable moral capital. There he was in his spiffy white uniform to be congratulated by President Nixon for having survived his ordeal in the North Vietnamese prison. Then he submitted to abuse by the Bush family who dragged his name through the mud with a racist slur campaign in North Carolina. Yet he continued to do Bush’s bidding. Now his campaign has lost momentum, but he keeps on running. He’s a great tragic character.