Assassination Porn

Reading between the lines.
Aug. 5 2004 12:58 PM

Assassination Porn

Nicholson Baker's irate new novel.

(Continued from Page 1)

Even where Baker conveys that Jay and Ben are spouting nonsense, you get the feeling that we're supposed to groove on it. Even Jay's urge to assassinate is Bush's fault:

Jay: …And the prisons. The mockery on the guards' faces. It's like when he was governor of Texas, smirking over the executions. The man's personality trickles down through the entire military hierarchy and makes everyone meaner and nastier.

Ben: Including you.

Jay: Including me.

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Indulging such thoughts is like the guilty pleasure liberals who know better take in watching Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. What makes Checkpoint a work of pornography isn't that its characters debate killing George W. Bush. What makes it pornography is the shameless way it panders to its readers' crudest beliefs. Jay and Ben's debate about something that's plainly wrong serves to disguise their complete agreement about every facet of the Bush administration and the Iraq war. It isn't a debate at all. The strumming and stroking in Vox were much more edifying.

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

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