'Rodham' Book Takes Us Where Nobody Wants To Go
You've probably heard of Rodham: A Novel, the only somewhat lengthy work of fanfiction that YA writer Curtis Sittenfeld convinced Random House to publish. Much buzz has accompanied the lead-up to the release of the "alternate history" story that imagines how different (and much more successful) Hillary Clinton's life and career would have been if she hadn't married Bill. There's a lot of weird going on here -- the suggestion that her marriage was Clinton's only or biggest political misstep, the whole idea of writing historical fiction about a person who could read it -- but nobody realized how much fuckin' would be involved. It's so much fuckin', you guys. And it's so weird, not just because it involves Bill and Hillary Clinton, but that certainly does destroy any eroticism that this scene of highway hand stuff might have contained:
Sittenfeld defended her decision to recast a former president and the woman who's gotten closer to the office than any other as softcore porn stars, explaining "I feel like my job is to evoke from the inside how it feels to be really attracted to another person or how it feels to make out with another person for the first time." But is it?! Is it, really?
Is it anyone's job to put the image of Bill Clinton's "pale buttocks" as he bends down to pick up his saxophone to play a naked rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In" out into the world? Was it strictly necessary to put blowjob jokes, among other things, into the mouth of a 72-year-old grandmother just to callback to her husband's sex scandal? (Her friends ask about their sex life, and she says, "It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'sex' means." Har, har.) Was there no way to tell this already dubiously valuable story without describing the way these two -- again, very living -- people might have torn each other's clothes off and "devoured each other"? If you don't see any line crossing there, try writing a similar story about your friends clapping cheeks and show it to them. See how well it goes over.
This is why historical fiction is usually written about, you know, dead historical people. We're several centuries removed from feeling weird about watching Henry VIII stick it to Anne Boleyn in the woods. Does this mean that Bill and Hillary, too, will one day be played by far younger and sexier actors in a steamy and comically loose retelling of their lives? Maybe, but at least those future viewers won't have to worry about running into them on a hike after they clean up.
Manna will never have to worry about running into anyone on a hike. Instead, she has a Twitter.