Monday, September 8, 2008

Selling the General - Jennifer Egan

-- Abby --
I really enjoyed this story. A down-on-her-luck publicist is hired by a mass murdering dictator to improve his international image. She ends up in the jungle with her precotious 9-year-old daughter and a washed up actress where things go horribly wrong.

The back story on the publicist involves a very tragic party where dozens of A-list celebs were horribly burnt with hot oil. The eye-opening moment for me is when the actress reveals that she (and many others) later burnt themselves to try to emulate the status the burns symbolized. This is horrifying, but really believable. I can easily imagine some sort of terrible accident at an Oscar party and Kathy Griffin and all the girls on E! cutting themselves and claiming they were there.

Anyway, though the actress is very nearly killed, and the publicist wrought with guilt, a few photos leaked to the press are enough to get the paparazzi swarming the jungle and the campaign ends up working.

I've now decided that a few photos of Osama Bin Laden snuggling Lindsay Lohan would be enough for the tabloids to root him out. Why send the military when you can send some journalists with questionable ethics?

So the story is pretty well-written, the interaction between the mother and daughter is sort of heartbreaking and cute at the same time. The flashbacks are well-placed to develop the characters and explain their motives. Finally, as with anything that rings true, every person in the story is motivated entirely by some combination of greed and ego. I love that.