Picks and Pans Review: The Running Mate

UPDATED 05/08/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/08/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Joe Klein

Klein seems intent on solidifying his place in the 'fraidy-cat wing of the literary lions association. Not only was his previous novel, Primary Colors, a most timid and genteel satire on Bill and Hillary Clinton, but Klein originally published it anonymously. This time around his target is fictional U.S. Sen. Charlie Martin, a feckless Vietnam veteran (clearly no resemblance to John McCain) whose girlfriend, a Manhattan-based swim-suit designer, still lives with her bisexual ex-husband. The novel is supposed to be an implicit attack on the American political system, but Klein lets it degenerate into a sappy romance. And the prose is as lame as the plot. A political correspondent for The New Yorker, Klein more often writes like a fashion reporter ("She was wearing an olive-khaki suit over a burgundy silk shell. The suit had a slightly military feel to it...the outfit seemed off, a notch too dramatic"). If ever he were to write anonymously, Klein should have done it with this book—to avoid guilt by association. (Dial, $26.95)

Bottom Line: A lame duck

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