Tag: Primary Colors

#BestsellerCode100: The Last Child Wrap-Up Poll

Time to wrap up the discussion of our latest novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listThe Last Child by John Hart. The conversation started here.

Note: Post does not contain spoilers.

The Last Child* by John Hart

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

We are reading these books because they were picked by the computer algorithm in The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers as the best of the bestsellers.  Do you agree with the computer that this book should be on the list?  Why or why not?

 What was your final opinion of The Last Child?

 

Do you agree with the computer that The Last Child is one of the best of the bestsellers?

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 95. The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan (2011) – Discussion begins January 16, 2017

#BestsellerCode100: Little Bee Wrap-Up Poll

Time to wrap up the discussion of our latest novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listLittle Bee by Chris Cleave. The conversation started here.

Chris Cleave’s Little Bee: A Novel*

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

We are reading these books because they were picked by the computer algorithm in The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers as the best of the bestsellers.  Do you agree with the computer that this book should be on the list?  Why or why not?

 What was your final opinion of Little Bee?

 

Do you agree with the computer that Little Bee is one of the best of the bestsellers?

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 96 on the list,The Last Child by John Hart (2009) – Discussion begins Monday January 2, 2017

#BestsellerCode100: Joe Klein’s Primary Colors Wrap-Up Poll

Time to wrap up the discussion of our latest novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listPrimary Colors by Joe Klein. The conversation started here.

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics* by Joe Klein

(*Amazon affiliate link)

We are reading these books because they were picked by the computer algorithm in The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers as the best of the bestsellers.  Do you agree with the computer that this book should be on the list?  Why or why not?

 What did you think of Primary Colors?

 

Do you agree with the computer that Primary Colors is one of the best of the bestsellers?

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 97 on the list, Little Bee by Chris Cleave (2008) – Discussion begins Monday December 19, 2016

#Bestseller Code100: Primary Colors by Joe Klein From A Reader’s Perspective

As part of our ongoing challenge to read through the 100 best of the bestsellers as listed in The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers, let’s take a look at Primary Colors, by Joe Klein, from a Reader’s Perspective.  (Discussion is rounded-up here.)

This post contains spoilers.

Joe Klein’s Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics*

(*Amazon affiliate link)

 

We have now read 3 of the 100 potential bestsellers listed in The Bestseller Code:

#100 – Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane

#99 – State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

#98 – Primary Colors, by Joe Klein

Even though the algorithm discussed in The Bestseller Code considered the same parameters, these three books illustrated just how diverse a result can come out of those parameters.  Shutter Island is a mystery/thriller, where the weather and the sea (water) are a main theme and everything looks gray and feels damp and drearyState of Wonder is a literary adventure where the Amazon (both the river and the jungle) is a main theme, providing color with plants, animals, and the indigenous tribes.

Primary Colors, a political novel, is infused with its own distinctive color colorful language, colorful descriptions of rooms, and colorful descriptions of the character’s clothing.  The story is told mainly through dialogue – so much dialogue!  As an introvert, I was almost overwhelmed with the onslaught of dialogue.   And then there’s the number of characters introduced – so many that the book really should come with a list of them.

In Primary Colors, Henry Burton becomes an integral member of Jack Stanton’s presidential campaign.   Jack Stanton is the Democratic governor of a small southern state, the penultimate politician, who has aspired to be President all his life.  His wife Susan, whom he met in law school, helps direct his campaign.   Is this sounding familiar?  If not, consider that the book was written in the mid-90s, a couple of years after William Jefferson Clinton’s first successful run for the Oval Office.  Joe Klein was a political journalist for 25 years when he wrote Primary Colors, and it is evident that he had the inside scoop on the world of politics and how politicians think and operate.

Reading Primary Colors right after this year’s Presidential Election was almost surreal – then again, this year’s election WAS surreal.  Maybe it was the timing, but I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would.  I gained some insight into the synergistic relationship between politicians and the media.  And it also gave me pause to consider how we American’s love to build up our political candidates and then just as quickly turn on them, finding all the faults and flaws, and then magnifying them to the extreme.  I don’t know how politicians handle the scrutiny.  And does that scrutiny really gain us anything – do the very best candidates withstand the scrutiny?  Or only those that have the toughest skins?

The version of Primary Colors that I read had an afterword by the author.  The last few paragraphs of the afterword were most noteworthy:

People often ask me what the Clintons thought of the book.  I’m not sure.  The president did ask me once, after one of the end-of-administration-interviews he’d granted me, why I’d written it.  “Well, I saw it as a tribute to larger-than-life politicians,” I said, which was the truth.

The first lady snorted derisively.  “Well, First Lady,” I said to her, “would you rather have a larger-than-life president or a smaller-than-life president?”

She shrugged in agreement, and I pressed the case: “And larger-than-life politicians have larger-than-life strengths and larger-than-life weaknesses.”

Mrs. Clinton nodded at me with a twinkle, then looked over at her husband, and said, “That’s for sure.”

 Like I said, given this past year’s presidential election, surreal.

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Roberta’s review from a writer’s perspective

 

You can also join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.
__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 97 on the list, Little Bee by Chris Cleave (2008) – Discussion begins December 19, 2016.

#BestsellerCode100: Primary Colors by Joe Klein From A Writer’s Perspective

As part of our ongoing challenge to read through The Bestseller Code 100, let’s take a look at  Primary Colors by Joe Klein from a writer’s perspective. (Discussion is rounded-up here.)

This post contains spoilers.

Joe Klein’s Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics*

(*Amazon affiliate link)

Primary Colors is a roman à clef, a book about real people who have been fictionalized and disguised. Drawing on his background as a journalist for twenty-five years, Joe Klein reveals the inner workings of a political campaign during the early 1990s when television predominated and the Internet hadn’t taken off yet. It is loosely based on former President Bill Clinton’s first campaign. As a political novel, Primary Colors falls in the genre fiction category.

1. Characters

Although this is a roman à clef, it is still possible to define a few archetypes. Henry Burton, former congressional aide, is the first person narrator and sidekick to protagonist Jack Stanton, a governor of a small Southern state who is running for president. Daisy Green, a media consultant, becomes Henry’s love interest. There isn’t a clear antagonist.

From the first page, Klein feeds the reader a steady stream of characters:  Howard Ferguson III, Arlen Sporken, Orlando Ozio, Luther Charles, Uncle Charlie, Susan Stanton, Mitch the driver…  It was a gush of names. In fact, it was so hard to keep everyone straight that I started keeping a running list. Even though I only counted names that reoccurred and gave up about two thirds the way through the book, I still had forty-two names.

A number of the characters made only a single appearance and only a few are developed into more than cardboard silhouettes. In most novels this would be a flaw, yet in Primary Colors this flood of names works. Politicians and journalists meet an awful lot of people, and Klein gives us a sense of what that might be like to be constantly bombarded with names.

If you would like to start a list of your own, Shan (one of our fellow reader/writers) found a shorter list of the “primary” characters and their potential real-life counterparts on Wikipedia.

Dialogue

Obviously, the computer algorithm that chose these novels is not offended by profanity. When reading, I tend to skip right over expletives. It wasn’t until I started looking for a snippet of dialogue as an example did I begin to realize how often the f-word appears in this text.

Overall, the dialogue sounds authentic. It is sprinkled with contractions and sentence fragments.

“Great, huh?” I said.
“You forget what I’m doing here, Henri?”
“We’re on the cover of Time, man.”
“Does he know yet?”
“No, he’s in mega-explain mode. Doing shoe imports. Can’t shut him up.”

Klein does a good job of interspersing long stretches of dialogue with shorter pieces.

new-hampshire-joe-klein

Public Domain Photo of New Hampshire via Dustytoes via VisualHunt

2. Setting (Scene Execution)

The setting in this novel takes the back seat to the characters. Much of the action takes place in New Hampshire in the months leading up to the primary. At one point the candidate travels to Los Angeles. Paradoxically he finds a chilly reception in warm, sunny LA and a warm reception when he returns to cold New Hampshire.

The Stantons come from Mammoth Falls, which I assume is fictional since the “Southern state” is never named. There is Mammoth Springs  in Arkansas.

3. Themes

Because this is genre fiction, we would expect the themes would not be as strong as in literary fiction (like State of Wonder), and that is the case.  The main theme seems to be that politicians have flaws just like everyone else. As Klein says in the Afterward:

…larger-than-life politicians have larger-than-life strengths and larger-than-life weaknesses.

Discussions of race also pop up throughout.

4. The Afterward

If you are interested in writing, you should find a later edition copy of the novel with the Afterward included. In it Klein gives a glimpse into his writing process. He discusses what it was like to write a novel after having worked as a journalist, saying journalism was hard and fiction was fun. As other novelists have found,  he revealed characters would simply show up on the page and refuse to do what he expected. He also talks about why he chose to publish anonymously and some of the consequences of having done that.

One paragraph on page 375 in the Afterward is curiously prophetic.

And now it is — suddenly, ridiculously — ten years later. I miss the characters I created in Primary Colors and, from time to time, I think about taking another run at them… although I’m pretty sure that a Susan Stanton campaign for the presidency wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as Jack’s.

Conclusion:

This is only the third novel from The Bestseller Code list, but it is already apparent each is unique. Primary Colors could not be more different from State of Wonder.  Why did the computer algorithm pick these books? Do you see any patterns yet?

Join us on social media:

__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 97 on the list, Little Bee by Chris Cleave (2008) – Discussion begins December 19, 2016

#BestsellerCode100: Number 98 Primary Colors

Time to start the discussion of our next novel from The Bestseller Code 100 listPrimary Colors by Joe Klein. It was first published anonymously in 1996.

This post does not contain spoilers.  (Note:  Out of consideration to those who haven’t read the book yet, please indicate right up front if your comment or review contains spoilers.)

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics* by Joe Klein

(*Amazon affiliate link)

Summary:   Henry Burton was disillusioned by congressional politics and resigned from his post as an aide to Congressman William Larkin. Jack Stanton, the governor of a “small Southern state,” convinces Henry to help him with a run for the presidency. Jack is charismatic and seems to be truly interested in people’s problems. Can Henry navigate the minefields of presidential primary politics and help him succeed?

Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; 10th Anniversary ed. edition (October 17, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0812976479
ISBN-13: 978-0812976472

bestseller-code-100-98

What did you think of Primary Colors? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Related posts:

  1. Book-beginnings, a discussion of the first line of the novel
  2. Karen’s review from a reader’s perspective
  3. Roberta’s review/analysis from a writer’s perspective
  4.  Evaluate the book in the wrap-up poll

Join us on social media:

Do you have suggestions for ways to improve this reading challenge? We’d love to hear them.

Have you written about Primary Colors? Feel free to add a link to your review here.


__________________

What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 97 on the list, Little Bee by Chris Cleave (2008) – Discussion begins December 19, 2016

#BookBeginnings Joe Klein’s Primary Colors Starting Soon

As you may know, we are hosting a challenge to read through the list of 100 bestsellers recommended in The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers. Primary Colors by Joe Klein is number 98 on the list, and we’ll be starting the full discussion on Monday.

Today we’re participating in a fun book meme hosted at Rose City Reader called Book Beginnings on Fridays. The premise to share the first sentence or so of a book you are reading and your thoughts about it.

 

book-beginnings-button

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics* by Joe Klein (Previously published anonymously)

(*Amazon affiliate link)

Background:   Primary Colors is an older book. It was first published anonymously in 1996, but later journalist Joe Klein admitted he was the author. A political novel, it follows an aide to a governor who is running for president.

It was made into a movie starring John Travolta in 1998. Movie trailer:

First paragraph:

He was a big fellow, looking seriously pale on the streets of Harlem in deep summer. I am small and not so dark, not very threatening to Caucasians; I do not strut my stuff.

Would you keep reading?

Discussion:  Klein has packed quite a bit into this first paragraph. He has chosen to start the book at the exact moment main character Henry Burton meets the governor who potentially will be his boss. In the first sentence  we learn Henry’s first impressions of the man, as well as the setting. In the second sentence, Henry introduces himself.

Opinion:  I found Henry’s description of himself confusing. The first part, “I am small” seems to be comparing himself to the “big fellow,” yet how could he be “not so dark” compared to someone who was “seriously pale?” I suspect he is exhibiting a bit of subtle humor?

What do you think?

Have you read this book? Did you see the movie?

© 2017 It's A Mystery Blog

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑