two-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
21-Mar-Apr-2006
user_rating: 
0

A-DogDaysAna Marie Cox is best known for her Wonkette online blog. Here, in her debut novel, she takes inspiration from another blogger that took Capitol Hill by storm in 2004, the Washingtonienne. In Dog Days, Idealistic Iowan Melanie Thornton comes to Washington to work the 2004 presidential campaign for Senator John Hillman. Soon enough she plants her expensive heels in plenty of Foggy Bottom rubbish: sex, booze, and, of course, politics. When her affair with a prominent magazine editor comes to light and her candidate is accused of participating in mind-control experiments at Harvard, deliberate action must be taken. The Capitolette Blog is born, a fictional diary of a Capitol courtesan. The strategy works to distract the punditry, but not before Melanie wonders whether getting out of the beltway might not be better for her head.
Riverhead. 271 Pages. $23.95. ISBN: 1594489017

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"At times, Melanie sounds like a funnier, more self-knowing Maureen Dowd. And I like Maureen Dowd. … If this sparkly, witty—occasionally vicious—little novel is any indication of Wonkette’s talent, then Cox ought to log out of cyberspace and start calling herself Novelette." Christopher Buckley

San Francisco Chronicle 2 of 5 Stars
"When Cox summons the voice that makes her online persona memorable, the book can be funny, and it offers some insight into the day-to-day disappointments of life in Washington. … Most of Dog Days, though, misses. It lacks the undercurrent of outrage that made a cinematic Washington satire like Wag the Dog work, or the deadpan incredulity that made a nonfictional treatment of the same subject, Michael Lewis’ Trail Fever, valuable." Marc Herman

Dallas Morning News 1.5 of 5 Stars
"Ms. Cox has a flair for drunken-flirtation scenes, and some of her pompous types get their comeuppance in amusing ways. Were it not for the author’s buzzy background, however, this slight first novel might well be ignored, a fate worse than death in the Washington of Wonkette." Chris Tucker

New York Times 1.5 of 5 Stars
"Dog Days manages to be doubly conventional: it follows both an old-fashioned love-betrayal-redemption arc and the newer, bitchier nanny-Prada chick-lit motif. … Sparse as it is, the book’s snarky humor is welcome." Janet Maslin

Newsday 1.5 of 5 Stars
"What snaps and crackles in a quick posting turns soggy at book length. Taking potshots at Washington’s characters, it turns out, is easier than inventing one of your own." Janice P. Nimura

Washington Post 1.5 of 5 Stars
"It’s a novel torn from the day before yesterday’s headlines. … In place of dialogue, Cox introduces chunks and lumps of interchanges just as they appear on LED screens. The result is a convincing argument that electronics provide a mode of expression falling between graffiti tags and gerbil squeaks." P.J. O’Rourke

Critical Summary

Wonkette’s tenure as Washington D.C.’s favorite blogger doesn’t buy much sympathy for the jump into print. Her notoriety certainly precedes her, and she doesn’t help her case by delivering a thinly veiled account of her life and times (so far) on the World Wide Web. More damning to her cause is an anemic plot and a fixation on consumer frills (Charles David shoes; the ubiquitous BlackBerry) that keep her debut novel a purely surface-oriented affair. Reviewers praise the few moments Cox is able to capture her trademark snark on the page, but the general feeling is that what works in brief can’t be sustained for over 200 pages. May as well turn to www.wonkette.com.