Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Mark Halperin has talked to people who've seen Sarah Palin's book and he says it doesn't have an index. In response to that, Kevin Drum writes:

... it does reek of that trademark Palin combination of spitefulness and teenage tribalism, doesn't it? Plus a gratuitous dose of anti-intellectualism, since only scholar type folks use indexes.

I know something about this process. I know people who create indexes for book publishers. (An index is rarely the author's own work outside of academic publishing.) Believe me, doing a professional index isn't an easy, offhand thing. Because professional indexes include concepts ("Palin, Sarah, second pregnancy of" and the like) as well as proper names, doing one usually takes a few weeks. Sure, you could do an easier, faster, name-only index, but I'm guessing the same names come up over and over again in this book, so I'm not sure how much good that would do. My guess is that the people at HarperCollins just felt there wasn't enough time.

Which is not to say Palin wouldn't have indulged herself in spitefulness and teenage tribalism. But I suspect it wasn't her idea.


AND: There's this from The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder, whose response to Halperin's revelation that the book contains only five (long) chapters makes me suspect that he (Ambinder) spent way too many years in school:

Five chapters is an interesting choice. Just from a literary standpoint, long chapters can require lots of narrative transition, weaving in and out of anecdotes--something public figures tend to avoid with shorter chapters that let them separate anecdotes without having to tie them together into a longer narrative. The form requires a strong, sustained narrative voice to carry it--which can be challenging. But we all know Palin's voice is a strong one, so perhaps it plays to her strength.

"The form"? Here's my guess about "the form": it's going to turn out to be a pure gimmick -- five chapters with ponderous one-word titles. I'm guessing "Family," "Faith," "Freedom," "Politics" (the fall '08 chapter), and "America." (Possibly one of them will be "Alaska" -- you probably do0n't need both "Freedom" and "America.") Once you have that, maybe you might have a "longer narrative," or maybe you'll just have a bunch of strung-together anecdotes, or who knows what-the-hell. But to analyze this thing formally just seems silly. It's almost certainly hackwork. It could be a competent, readable piece piece of hackwork, but it ain't gonna win, or deserve, any National Book Award.


Oh, and there's this, from the taping of Palin's Oprah interview:

Sarah Palin is eyeing a talk show, according to audience members who witnessed the former VP candidate's interview with Oprah today.

Oprah asked Palin directly whether she wanted to get into the talk show business. Palin demurred and, according to audience members interviewed outside the studio, suggested she was considering the move. Palin did not give a direct yes or no answer.

In addition, at least one audience member noticed tension between Oprah and Palin.

Oprah " kept on her and on her," said Lauren Espie of Oprah's inquiries into Palin's plans to host a talk show. But Palin "bluntly never responded." ...

I know a lot of people think she wants to go that route and not run for president. I think one wouldn't preclude the other in her mind. Regarding this, I assume she just wants someone to make her an offer. But I think she'll run whether or not that happens.

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