The Obsession Thing

When someone says she loves George Bush these days, she’s almost certainly talking about the man William Bennett recently christened “W.” But at least one novelist prefers the ex-president to the presidential hopeful. Next January Simon and Schuster will publish Lydia Millet’s George Bush, Dark Prince of Love , which she describes as “a sort of subversion of the Harlequin Romance.” The book, set in the late eighties, tells the story of Rosemary, an overweight ex-convict who becomes obsessed with the man who uttered the phrase “read my lips” as soon as the words leave his, well, lips. “She stalks him—not in a hostile way, but in a lovestruck way,” the thirty-year-old Millet explains. “She imagines this fantasy life.” Of all the presidents to romanticize, why this one? “Whenever I think of him,” she says with a chuckle, “it’s animal magnetism, pure and simple.” Kidding aside, she professes to have some grudging admiration for the most recent Republican president—even if she is a former copy editor at Larry Flynt’s Hustler. “There’s much more innate humor in George Bush than there ever was in Reagan. He has the ability to mock himself.” In case you’re wondering, Bush appears in the book only briefly, at the end—and his son, alas, doesn’t show up at all. “He’s not a meaty character,” Millet says, “but maybe time will change that.”

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