Allen Drury – Advise and Consent

advise and consentI will concede to Drew Moody, that I have lost the challenge. This challenge was the best challenge yet, as it reminded me of the what we had set out to do. We have not read the same books at the same time through out this challenge, but the times we have we have had some great conversations about the books. I don’t know why we haven’t read the same books at the same time, but we haven’t and so we have missed the opportunity discussing the works while they were fresh with us. We have happened to read books near enough to one another that we were able to discuss them fairly fresh, but that hasn’t happened often. Either way, I have a steel-trap mind for fiction as has been decorously captured here on the blog, and so I am able to discuss with Drew when he finishes one that I have read well enough with him. Now I supposed I will discuss this book:

News flash: this book has within it the tragic incident of the death of the sitting President. This book was written and one the Pulitzer-prize for fiction in 1959. John F. Kennedy died in 1963. How unusual is that? The death of the President in Advise in Consent does not play that large of a role, and I know that is a spoiler for anyone out there that hasn’t read this book yet, but I could not contain myself in mentioning that here. I was just struck by the unusual circumstance this book had to exist in its time. I think this is why we decided on this project. The Pulitzer Project is an unusual journey in and of itself, and this book is the perfect example of the intrigue we were hoping for. Drew and I both conceived of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction as the most prestigious award given to American literature. Given that, we found it wonderfully baffling the little amount of attention the by-gone winners receive. So much so that many of them are no longer in print and able to find whatsoever. We didn’t realize when we set out to make a challenge out of finding these books second-hand and in person was going to be the only way we could find them anyways. Advise and Consent eluded us for quite some time as it was. Just this past February, they released an e-book version of it which saved me a lot of hassle this time of the year where pollen is bad enough without me sticking my nose in a paperback from 1965.

So beyond the unusual portion of the book about the death of the sitting President, and the Vice President’s foreshadowed but wholly unanticipated by this reader’s rise to power which ends in a very positive light. I was blown away by the readability of this book. As with all of my reviews, that glowing endorsement is tempered by some inexcusably dense passages of prose, the very very awkward wedding night scene of the Senators kids, and the happy-go-lucky ending of the all of the president’s men riding off into the sunset to meet the Russia in Geneva. With all of that said, there were some blazingly readable passages through out this book, and I had a lot fun sitting on the edge of my seat with Drury stringing me along. I do not know much about the inner workings of the political process, and so I am not sure I totally understood what was going on with a few passages, which I felt were a little too ‘insider-y’ for me, but I was thoroughly impressed by how entertained I was. In addition to this, this book was written at exactly the right time for it to remain relevant for posterity for the American reader.

My love of America comes with some conflict as I am a liberal that has grown up in small-town America with all a very large portion of my family being service men and women. Given this, I feel a little more akin to the vantage point of Drury’s constant quest for reclaiming something of a patriotism from the jaws of a wayward time in the country’s political system. Drew and I argued over how similar this time was to our current time in politics which as anyone would admit is completely broken. I think Drury’s optimism for the American way of life and dream of liberty was in a way very refreshing. I am glad to have read it, and if you want to be reminded how people used to feel about America then read this book.

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