by Andrew Morton
St. Martin’s Press, 1999
288 pp $24.95
In September 1998, when Congress released independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s referral to the U.S. House of Representatives, a rivulet of amateur cultural anthropologists and professional literary critics appeared to irrigate the desert of scandal. They were not deterred by the Starr report’s evident triviality—accounting for each body part in each liaison and each of the incidental, everyday effects (pet names, gift trinkets, and the like) of the affair between Bill Clinton and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Nor did they seem especially frightened by the way important political stuff had brushed up against sticky femininity—you know, feeling-talk, low-cut blouses, dieting, and, oh, just general bourgeois softness—that had been polluting our consciousness all summer. After all, this document was a big-time Zeitgeist definer, so commentators took it upon themselves to tell us what was “really” going on here. And to do it, the most with-it of them turned to literary precedent, which the report’s scandalous portion, suggestively titled “The Narrative,” all but demanded....
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