Nixon Fiction

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In honor of this week’s Recommended Reading here are four pieces of fiction featuring Tricky Dick.

Nixon in Space” by Rob McCleary

“Nixon in Space,” first published in CRANK! in 1996, went the way of many zines from the 90’s — a sweet memory. Out-of-print but not forgotten, Jonathan Lethem resurrected the story for the latest issue of Recommended Reading.

In his introduction, Lethem writes, “The story is exuberant and rageful, political and eccentric, relevant and timeless. If you wrote ‘Nixon In Space’ or its equivalent fifty times you’d be George Saunders or Donald Barthelme. Do it just once and you’re Rob McCleary, I guess.”

Read it for free here.

“Nixon in Retirement” by Lindsay Hunter

Nixon in retirement: the concept almost oxymoronic — a former leader of the free world relegated to golf and early dinners. Mixing power with nostalgia, as Hunter demonstrates, is a great recipe for melancholy.

Read it in Hunter’s new collection Don’t Kiss Me or in Melville House’s Forty-Four Stories about our Forty-four Presidents. Check out another story from Don’t Kiss Me, “Three Things You Need to Know About Peggy Paula,” next week in Recommended Reading.

“Starlight” by Ann Beattie

Ever wonder what it’s like to be the woman behind the man, when the man is America’s favorite failure? Told in four sections, “Starlight” visits the final days of the Nixon administration, the early days of Mr. and Mrs. Nixon’s marriage, and the life and times of the Nixon family dog. With lines like, “People thought his smile was insincere because it was such a smile,” Beattie has Mrs. Nixon’s on double duty; her delicate observations reveal as much about her husband as they do about herself.

Read it in The New Yorker (September 19, 2011).

Find out what story Ann Beattie recommends in the July 31 issue of Recommended Reading

May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes

Homes’ latest novel features the late Richard Nixon as a would-be fiction writer. He didn’t fail, exactly — his stories were kept secret until after his death — but he was certainly obsessed with failure. In one completely produced story, a charismatic door-to-door salesman called Wilson Grady ends his day with dinner alone at a diner. The mashed potatoes “mounded like hills” (Hemingway, anyone?), and the plate so perfect it prompts the author to declare of his character, “he loves America” — the sentence dripping with irony like gravy off Wilson’s meatloaf.

Read “Hello Everybody” by A.M. Homes in Recommended Reading.

And if you’re tired of reading, here’s Louis CK on Nixon’s resignation.

 — Halimah Marcus is the co-editor of Electric Literature. She is also not a crook.

Illustration by Matt McCann. Copyright © 2013 Matt McCann.

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