I’ll be honest. There were only two factors that drove me to purchase this book.
1) The hype surrounding what was seemingly a damning, spare-no-soul expose on the Trump administration.
2) Trump tried to stop the book’s release, so buying it felt like a small, personal protest.
It was sold out all over the city. No one had it. As much as I hate to buy books from ANYWHERE over The Strand, I had to turn to Amazon. Even that took weeks, but at least I could read the first chapter online.
This was probably the most intriguing part. Bannon is painted as a comical, hog-like bureaucratic villain, a puppetmaster pulling all the strings behind Trump’s back who doesn’t realize he’s on strings as well. He’s instantly love/hateable and becomes the key figure throughout the book. Yes. It’s more about Bannon than it is about Trump.
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is like Mean Girls with politicians. It’s by far the cattiest snarkfest I’ve ever forged through in my life. I want to believe the accounts detailed in the book are true, but the tone and overwhelming hearsay undermine the credibility of the story and make me seriously incredulous. This is not to say I have an inkling of fondness or support for Trump. His presence actually nauseates me.
Wolff counters Trump’s simple-mindedness and lack of intellect with dense prose and winding sentence structures almost as difficult to untangle as the incompetence of this administration. I have an MFA in poetry writing, a medium in which you can pretty much make up whatever grammar rules you please, and I was shocked by Wolff’s comma fetish. He sometimes employed them to draw out sentences for than a third of the page long. Needless to say, it’s a taxing read that requires long stretches of silence and concentration.
There doesn’t seem to be a clear litany. Chapters are more episodic; each one attacks a different person or situation. The most often chided scapegoats are Kushner and Bannon. Wolff skirts around Ivanka. She is given nearly no autonomy or agency, almost always referred to as “daughter” or “wife,” despite Wolff’s suggestions that she is the strongest not-so-secret influence on her father. It seems like there’s a much more interesting story behind Ivanka than any of the other crew, but we never find out what’s lurking behind her polished facade.
It’s not so much that damning expose I was promised as much as it is a comedy of errors chronicling one circus’ sheer incompetency. You could probably get the same tired gossip from Stephen Colbert’s Our Cartoon President. Overall, there was short-lived satisfaction in purchasing the book in protest, but actually reading it is just more cruel subjection to the same exhausting punishments we’re living every day. You’re not going to learn anything new and you’re just going to end up frustrated, bored and depressed.