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Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife: Unfair to Laura Bush?

The Sittenfeld Book Debate: Should Laura Bush Be Off-Limits?

My friend Citizen sparked a lively conversation yesterday around an upcoming book by Prep author Curtis Sittenfeld titled American Wife. The novel follows a character named Alice Blackwell who is based on Laura Bush, and many of the first lady's real-life experiences are included.

I was intrigued by the strong reactions that spread across the Web yesterday, especially after Radar posted several sex scenes from the book that earned the unpublished novel descriptors like "steamy" and "tawdry."

Some folks feel strongly that this was disrespectful to Laura Bush, and that Sittenfeld should have left her alone. The assumption there is that the main character will be trashed in the book, but actually, there is reason to suspect the opposite. In 2004, Sittenfeld wrote an article ("Why I Love Laura Bush") explaining how much she admires Laura, calling her "such an easy heroine to root for — smart and nice but just flawed enough (she still sneaks cigarettes!) to remain likable." There doesn't appear to be malice in Sittenfeld's intentions.

Many fictional characters are based on real people — some famous, some not — but do you think Laura Bush should be off-limits? Or is any public figure fair game for novelists?

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MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
I haven't read anything by this author and most likely will not read this, either. The thought of Dubya having sex makes me feel ill....extremely ill..... :sick:
annebreal annebreal 8 years
I agree with Em. I think Sittenfeld is trying to use controversy to sell a book where her talent most likely couldn't. I've read Prep and some other book by her that was so forgettable I don't know the title, and I don't think she's a good writer. If someone with chops did this I might feel differently, but to me this is trying to sell mediocre quality with controversial buzz.
Lynne Lynne 8 years
:ROTFL: Fuzzles, me too! But... I might give this book a try (did not read Prep). I do like Laura Bush and it's not out of disrespect that I'd read it. It sounds rather interesting.
em113 em113 8 years
Prep sucked! Curtis is a hack that relies on subject matter not talent. Boo.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
I'll reserve judgment until I read the book, though I don't think it will top my list of must reads until much later. While it may be hard for readers to separate "fact" from fiction, they'll have to remind themselves that this just is one author's imaginative account of what is and might be.
dukegirl dukegirl 8 years
Do you think that asserting the novel is based on Laura Bush is true? Steamy? Tawdry? Hard to imagine.
erinflower erinflower 8 years
It's fair game even though I find it tacky.
fashion4ward fashion4ward 8 years
Why can't she come up with original material? I'm probably one of very few that didn't enjoy Prep all that much, so I'm not really on Curtis' side.
fuzzles fuzzles 8 years
I just have a problem with imagining Dubya having sex. I need a shower now. I feel soiled. ;)
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