Reading Rogue: There is no God

>> Friday, November 27, 2009

Sarah Palin may believe in God, but what kind of merciful, all-powerful creator would allow this book to be written? It's not an argument for atheism, it's an argument for an angst-ridden nihilism that swallows all hope.

And forget whatever I implied about Lynn Vincent, who has written enough books for me to assume she has some basic mastery of her native tongue, being the real writer of Going Rogue. This book is full of the fractured thought patterns and non sequiturs we've all come to expect from the great northern philosopher, Sarah Palin. Sentences start in one place and end somewhere else, paragraphs run off like leads in ice to vanish into inky black waters in which one simultaneously drowns and freezes to death.

From Sandpoint, Idaho, where I was born, via Juneau, Alaska, I touched down in the windy, remote frontier town of Skagway cradled in my mother's arms. I was just three months old, and barely sixty days had passed since the largest earthquake on record in North American history struck Alaska, on Good Friday, March 27, 1964.
-Sarah Palin, Going Rogue, p. 7

That's an entire paragraph. Verbatim. Two sentences, one of which is a convoluted way of saying she arrived in Alaska and the other a convoluted way of saying there was an earthquake before she got there. And this book is full of that kind of thing. Another brief (three-sentence) paragraph (on page 13) careens wildly from Wyatt Earp to some Alaskan crime boss to the crime boss being shot by somebody who wasn't Wyatt Earp. I don't mind short paragraphs, I use one-sentence paragraphs all the time (no, I do, really). But this is just ramshackle writing I'm putting up with. It may take longer than a week just to pull my brain off the siderails it keeps crashing into while I'm trying to parse paragraphs written for sixth graders.

In other respects, the book is exactly what you'd expect: self-aggrandizing, inconsistent, snidely accusatory, and full of attempts to shore up Palin's conservative bona fides. An initial section about visiting a State Fair, which ends with Palin receiving the call from the McCain campaign, has Palin name-checking small-town-America, her pro-life cred, energy policy and her family values. (It also includes this priceless gem: "At that moment, one of my BlackBerrys vibrated me back to work." What?) Palin mentions her poll numbers as an Alaskan governor and immediately adds she doesn't care about polls, talks about being a registered Republican who was always against the Alaskan Republican establishment (what a rogue!), and explains (sort of) that she ran for governor because state government was incapable of working for the interests of the people (the way she puts it, one can't tell if she wanted to be a crusader or to get in on the take). On one page she describes a childhood encounter with police harassment that she suggests explains her antipathy towards big government, a few pages later complains that when she was a child Alaska didn't have enough law enforcement resources to deal with crime. On another page she rhapsodizes about Native Americans knowing "they must aggressively protect the natural resources to which they are spiritually and physically connected"; in the next paragraph she implies they were bought off with "participation in the state's economic and political life," with no sense of irony over the fact that she's a prominent advocate of drilling the hell out of the resources those indigenous people are "spiritually and physically" connected to. And so on. She hates government, but she and both her parents were government employees over much of their lives, her father having made the decision to remain in Alaska at least partly because of a state incentive plan for teachers--i.e. taxpayer dollars were spent to expand the size of state government. Surprisingly, she doesn't criticize Alaska for offering her dad money or her dad for taking it.

This book is a painful slog, is what it is. I didn't think it would be the worst thing I'd ever read; only a few dozen pages in, that prognostication is proving to be a bit like George Armstrong Custer expecting he'd have that Sitting Bull fellow tied up by mid-afternoon at the latest, or Sir John Franklin deciding that he'd have a bit of a sail over to Asia round the Canadian coast and back, see his wife in a jiffy and could she have tea ready for him when he gets home?

The things I do for you people. I hope you appreciate this.


Janiece Friday, November 27, 2009 at 8:37:00 PM EST  

Attention, UCF: I am now taking donations for Eric's rehabilitation fund. You all know he's going to need some serious-ass help once he's done with this....

rbird Friday, November 27, 2009 at 9:38:00 PM EST  

great picture! i hope that the beer got you through the first chapter. (and that the font was in 18 pt in case you *really* needed that beer to get you through.)

Leanright,  Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 1:06:00 AM EST  

Hah hah hah. I am sooooo loving this.

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