This Fiction Isn’t Stranger Than Truth

The former Ogre-in-Chief. (Photo by Seth Wenig/Associated Press.)

A successful novelist and her agent meet for lunch, and the author mentions an idea she has for the main character in her next book.

“Get this,” says the novelist. “The protagonist is a former President of the United States who illegally brings sensitive White House documents to his palatial resort home in Florida, where the papers could be eaten by retired crocodiles in nearby condos.”

“He took those important papers with him after leaving office? Ridiculous plot device,” replies the agent. “No ex-POTUS would ever do that. Suspension of belief is one thing, but that’s more bonkers than Yonkers.”

“Where some of those crocodiles retired from. How about if I make the novel science fiction? After all, sci-fi author Ray Bradbury wrote Something Wicked This Way Comes.”

“That’s what decent-minded Floridians said when Donald Trump headed to their state in 2020,” recalls the agent. “Still, I’m not convinced your protagonist is credible.”

“Also,” the author pushes on, “my protagonist disputes the results of the presidential election he clearly lost by a wide margin, and most members of his political party disgustingly support that brazen undemocratic nonsense.”

“Readers will laugh in your face at something that implausible. And many won’t be wearing COVID-prevention masks…”

“How about if I make the novel a fantasy? You know, like The Lord of the Rings, only the rings are very tiny because the protagonist has very tiny hands.”

“Hmm…tell me more.”

“The ex-POTUS aligns himself with an evil Sauron-like figure named Putt-in, who shares the former President’s penchant for golf instead of work — though Putt-in does find the time to invade a neighboring golf course.”

“I just can’t accept the idea of a former U.S. president vile enough to ride AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’ so quickly there’d be no time for Satan to prepare a welcoming brunch of toasted bagels. VERY toasted bagels.”

“Maybe YOU should write a novel,” replies the author. “Anyway, my proposed protagonist is also a misogynistic brute guilty of multiple instances of sexual misconduct yet always avoids criminal prosecution and always avoids losing support from most members of his political party. He’s as Teflon as the pots and pans he never cooks with because he never cooks.”

“What’s gotten into you?” asks the agent. “Your previous characters were all so three-dimensional. Even The Fifth Dimension music group that made a cameo in one of your novels shed two dimensions to fit in.”

“I think I have enough ‘cred’ with my readers to pull off this ex-POTUS character — who’s also virulently racist and anti-LGBTQ, insults people with disabilities, lies constantly, doesn’t read books, is cheap and money-grasping despite being an alleged billionaire, etc.”

“Are you prepared to risk your career like Liz Cheney did?”

“You remind me that my protagonist also successfully urged his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol building to try to get his reelection loss overturned — yet is still nowhere near being jailed for his treasonously fake ‘Stop the Steal’ claims.”

“Is there anything I can do to convince you to ‘Stop the Spiel’ about this novel and not write it?”

“I feel I must write it, even though a protagonist that dishonorable could never exist in real life.”

My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the 2003-started/award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for every Thursday. The latest piece — about a local Starbucks unionizing and future plans for my town’s problematic Municipal Building — is here.

103 thoughts on “This Fiction Isn’t Stranger Than Truth

  1. Brilliant post, Dave!
    Thing is every time I felt like laughing, I wanted to cry.
    It amazes me how many in trump’s orb go to jail, but he remains free.
    Special Master…GAG me with a spoon.
    Can’t believe I did a movie about him for ABC(ended when he gets pitched for “The Apprentice”. He was a dickwad then, but now he’s a dickpin.
    Thing is “dick” is the important part.
    My father’s name is Dick, and it is more than well deserved.
    Who would name their child Dick or Randy?
    Fab post!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, Resa! 🙂

      I know — Trump is like some sort of Houdini artist, with that “special master” judge (who Trump appointed) the latest person to try to prevent him from getting deservedly punished. It’s infuriating.

      If I’m reading your comment right, very sorry about your father. Mine was a jerk, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Totally infuriating!!!
        I thought no one is above the law in the USA?
        I hope the Dems hang on in the Senate and Congress in the mid terms. It’s a much needed message to the liar&/or scary cat republicans.
        My dad was and still is a jerk. He’s in his 90’s, & thinks he’s wonderful. Thing is, he’s the only one who does.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ideally no one is above the law in the U.S., but of course in reality… 😦

          I hope the Dems hang on, too. Many of them are not great, but still of course better than so many fascist or semi-fascist Republicans.

          It’s maddening when jerks think they’re wonderful. Fortunately, my father has been gone for more than 30 years.


  2. Hi Dave, whenever I read about Donald Trump, I think of Stephen King’s book The Dead Zone which features a corrupt and narcistic politician. I’ve said it before but in retrospect, it feels as if King was the Nostradamus of modern America. A most entertaining and excellent post, even if it is rather terrifying.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Hi Dave, it has been a long time since I heard from you. I hope all is well on your end. I’m in the person of Eric Dwubeng from Ghana. I am a communicator, a writer and a journalist. After reading your story which was titled “Authors assisting authors”, I became enthused and compelled to ask for your assistance. Please, I humbly ask for your assistance in writing a book titled’ study smart”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Eric. This is a literature blog rather than a how-to-write-a-book blog, but I can try to answer a few questions. I know more about reading books than about writing them (just two in 10 years). 🙂


  4. Love the snippet! Truth and reality are greatly overrated. It’s a topos in much of what I produce in fringe writing. There’s no greater truth than in fiction. And reality – well there’s no such thing, if not of our own making, meaning the exact opposite of what people hope to achieve invoking it. Trump, by the way, is hors toute catégorie (beyond any category). Trump is a nihilist, a very cynical nihilist. So are those who support him. This is not what I believe. It is a reasoned opinion.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Dave – you had me thinking this morning. Political fiction is a fascination for me, because they record a specific moment in time in a society’s development. Think of Plato’s Republic that continues to influence our thoughts in the realm of philosophy and political theory. Or Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” that discussed the heartless attitudes to the poor. I love this quote from Animal Farm by George Orwell, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” And then there is Thomas More’s book Utopia, which envisions a better world. When I look back, every century has political fiction. I just read an excellent New York Times articulate “Does Fiction Have the Power to Sway Politics.”

    The top line says it all “Fiction can say publicly what might otherwise appear unsayable.”

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you, Liz! Well and vividly put. I know — Trump just seems indestructible as a cancerous political force. 😦 The more awful things he does and says, the more support he gets. I guess some people love the way he gives them permission to be their worst selves and the way he “owns the libs.” 😦

      Liked by 3 people

        • Yes, Liz! A totally charmed life, even going back to the ’70s when he and his equally racist father got light slaps on the wrist for denying housing to African-Americans in their NYC properties. Almost anyone else who has done what Trump has done for decades would have been jailed or at minimum shunned. He’s a total disgrace.

          Liked by 2 people

            • It’s a great, painful question, Liz. I have some theories — none original with me. Trump is rich (allegedly), white, male, and has some power. Those type of people often escape legal consequences, with the help of teams of high-paid attorneys. Also, some of Trump’s supporters will continue to threaten or commit violence if the law tries to touch Trump. Prosecutors and others are understandably worried about getting death threats against themselves and their families.

              Liked by 2 people

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