June 20, 2004
NYT Pans My Life
Michiko Kakutani notices what many of us Clinton-basher knew for years. That he's a narcissist constantly needing to be the center of attention. In her review of My Life she writes:
The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull ó the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history.
She doesn't rip on Dan Rather who's praised the book. (Could it have anything to do with generating interest in tonight's 60 Minutes interview or that Simon & Schuster, Clinton's publisher is a sister company to CBS underneath the Viacom umbrella?)
Kakutani goes on to write,
In fact, "My Life" reads like a messy pastiche of everything that Mr. Clinton ever remembered and wanted to set down in print; he even describes the time he got up at 4 a.m. to watch the inaugural ceremonies for Nigeria's new president on TV. There are endless litanies of meals eaten, speeches delivered, voters greeted and turkeys pardoned. There are some fascinating sections about Mr. Clinton's efforts to negotiate a Middle East peace agreement (at one point, he suggests that Yasir Arafat seemed confused, not fully in command of the facts and possibly no longer at the top of his game), but there are also tedious descriptions of long-ago political debates in Arkansas over utility regulation and car license fees . There are some revealing complaints about missteps at the FBI under Louis Freeh's watch , but there are also dozens of pointless digressions about matters like zombies in Haiti and ruins in Pompeii.
It sounds like My Life is like those long series of stories newspapers put out. The goal is to win a Pulitzer, but few end up reading every word because of the content's inanity.
"The Pastiche of a Presidency, Imitating a Life, in 957 Pages"