A satirical indictment of the current state of American politics, Jason Heller's Taft: 2012 imagines that William Howard Taft is running for president again, this time as a 100-year-old anachronism thrust into the media blitz that is the presidential race in the current climate. Fleet Cooper's rugged and deft narration draws clear lines between Taft and the world around him, expertly exposing the absurdity of his situation. At times poignant, at times comedic, this speculative novel is a listening experience that audiences will continue to enjoy.
He's back. And he's the biggest thing in politics.
He is the perfect presidential candidate. Conservatives love his hard-hitting Republican rsum. Liberals love his peaceful, progressive practicality. The media can’t get enough of his larger-than-life personality. And all the American people love that he’s an honest, hard-working man who tells it like it is. There’s just one problem. He is William Howard Taft...and he was already president a hundred years ago.
So what on earth is he doing alive and well and considering a running mate in 2012?A most extraordinary satire, Jason Heller’s debut novel follows the strange new life of a presidential Rip Van Winkle: a man who never even wanted the White House in the first place, yet finds himself hurtling toward it once more—this time, through the media-fueled madness of 21st-century America.
The author wasted no words in how our man Taft was transported to our times. But that was okay with me. Let the fantasy begin . . . quickly. Taft himself really did seem like a man from the early 20th century transported to our times.
I do think however that it was a little too tidy of a fit both for Taft and for us to believe that we were dealing with the real man. OTOH, I hate the forced drama that typically comes into play in these type of stories to get all sides to believe. So while the beginning was a tad weak, this was far more preferable to the latter.
One other thing. While this book is short (6 hours), it seemed to pass by in half the time.
I had just finished The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin and was looking for more to read about Taft.
The concept of this book instantly intrigued me. William Howard Taft operating in today's political climate? Sign me up!
The book had a few good moments, but focused too much on jokes about how different 2012 was from 1912 and Taft's girth. Taft was one of our most intelligent presidents and it wasn't reflected in this story. The Taft in this story occasionally reflected the Taft in The Bully Pulpit, but not as much as I would have liked.
At best, the story intrigued me. At worst, it annoyed me.
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Heller is a talented writer, has a great sense of the absurd, both dark and broad, and a wise take on modern culture. I don't know how well the book will date, but as a clever way to comment on our current political culture without being polemic, hamfisted, or partisan, it is very enjoyable.
What other book might you compare Taft 2012 to and why?
I suppose it is in the spirit of Twain, Douglas Adams, early Spy magazine.
What aspect of Fleet Cooper’s performance would you have changed?
In general a strong reader. Great voice. And while his Taft was fantastic, it got a little over the top on some of the other characters, especially the children; the children's voices are almost annoying.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Not especially, but that is often a more satisfying book to listen to. Engaging but not that sort of compulsively addictive narrative where you get frustrated at the reader for not reading fast enough.
Any additional comments?
Definitely look forward to reading the print edition presently.