Miracle worker.

Notes from the political sidelines.
Sept. 4 2005 4:05 PM

Miracle Worker

Bush longs for James Lee Witt, the Clinton man he should have kept.

80_thehasbeen
(Continued from Page 9)

This spring, Curtis Sittenfeld  lit up the style pages and the best-seller lists with her first novel,  Prep. The book tells the story of Lee Fiora, a girl from South Bend, Ind., who heads East to Ault, a tony, private boarding school for rich kids. Lee's Midwestern mores are no match for Ault's arid elitism, and by junior year she is as heartless, insufferable, and dull as the sons and daughters of families who have attended Ault for generations.

Prep's main selling point was its ring of truth. Sittenfeld, who went to Groton, remembers all the reasons boarding school made her miserable, and she sets them out in vivid detail to get even.

Advertisement

Now, thanks to reams of Roberts profiles, we know that Lee Fiora didn't have to travel 1,000 miles East to find a tony, private boarding school. There was one in her own backyard.

Little Big Man: Roberts prepped at La Lumiere, an exclusive private boarding school in LaPorte, Ind.—just 25 miles form South Bend. Like Sittenfeld's anti-hero, Cross Sugarman, Roberts was the BMOC: getting elected proctor, captaining sports teams, and getting into Harvard. Unlike Sugarman, Roberts didn't set out to bed every woman in the class face book. He was too busy fighting to keep the school from going co-ed, so there weren't any.

For the most part, Prep is the tale of the excruciatingly tedious youth he could have had if he weren't so interested in Latin class. As The New Yorker review put it, "Any feelings of nostalgia for adolescence should be dispelled by the exacting intimacies of this first novel."

The high point of Lee Fiora's high-school career is when she spills her woes to a New York Times reporter, who writes a page-one story Roberts would not like to be in, about all the ways that wealthy kids at boarding schools look down on scholarship students.

La Lumiere is co-ed now, so Lee Fiora could have gone there and made Peppermint Patty an honest woman. If she had, she might help us understand why John Roberts went to boarding school a few minutes from his parents' home.

Random House, though, knew better than to publish a book called Midwest Prep. Boring is fine for Supreme Court nominees, but not for best-sellers. ... 4:08 A.M. (link)

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

iOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 12:02 PM Here It Is: The Flimsiest Campaign Attack Ad of 2014, Which Won’t Stop Running
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 1:59 PM Ask a Homo: Secret Ally Codes 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 1:26 PM Hey CBS, Rihanna Is Exactly Who I Want to See on My TV Before NFL Games
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.