Trump, DJ. 2015. ‘Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again’. Simon & Schuster.
There’s a great review out there from a well-known English writer on the life’s work of an equally well-known European politician. It is a short and succinct book review, one that neither holds its punches nor wastes precious words on unnecessary bluster.
For example, reviewing the politician’s appearance on the inside cover jacket, the reviewer describes “a pathetic, dog-like face, the face of a man suffering under intolerable wrongs” where “the initial, personal cause of his grievance against the universe can only be guessed at”.
To some, judging an author’s work by his physical appearance might seem a bit superficial, but in the reviewer’s opinion, this dog-like face is the key to understanding everything about the work itself. It is this same grimace, he argues – that ugly, angry, ever-present, ever-pernicious and eternally self-pitying grimace – which permeates the text entire. The world inhabited by this politician-author, it seems, is a world where “he is the martyr, the victim, Prometheus chained to the rock, the self-sacrificing hero who fights single-handed against impossible odds”.
The “odds”, of course, are not odds at all – they are “dragons made from mice”. And yet even despite all that, and despite knowing that the man’s cranium is merely the vessel of a brain whose only political vision is the creation of a “horrible brainless empire” the reviewer puts the book down feeling that somehow and for some bizarre reason, that same politician actually deserves to win.
The review was written by George Orwell and the book was written by Adolf Hitler and just as it is with the Hurst and Blackett’s edition of Mein Kampf, there is an equally awful portrait of Donald Trump on the cover of his own political treatise – Crippled America.
I never wanted to buy a copy of Crippled America nor, really, did I want to read it. Sure, I’d seen it in the airport bookshops and noted it trending in the top 10 on Amazon. One time, I even picked it off a news-stand and flicked through it while browsing for a gift for somebody I didn’t like. For mere amusement, of course. Not to buy. I didn’t dislike the person that much.
Certainly, my intention was never to read it – cover-to-cover. I didn’t need to read Crippled America because Trump wasn’t going to win was he? All that nonsense being played out on cable news was just nonsense after all wasn’t it? All that bluster was just bluster. And all that rhetoric – that divisive, callous rhetoric – was sure to secure Mr Trump a crippling defeat. Right? One needn’t bother with the campaign chargers of the political runners-up of the world.
Election day came however, and Trump won and I was wrong and so were all the polls and so here I am reviewing Crippled America by Donald J Trump – well, reviewing the front cover at the very least.
The term “angrily indifferent” best describes the President’s facial expression on the cover because though he is very clearly frowning, one also gets the feeling that the frown is anything but sincere – that Trump isn’t really angry at all – that really in the end, he couldn’t care in the slightest about anything beyond himself – including whatever is written in his own book.
His oft-remarked-upon hair-do and rouge-orange skin is conspicuously present in the photograph as well, and with a patch of white around the temples it is feasible to imagine that the photo’s subject is not a mannequin made from wax even if the cheeks have been touched up with foundation and Photoshop.
In his dark navy suit and blue tie Donald J Trump dominates the portrait – the flabby, ichthyic hands which others have remarked upon shrewdly kept out of frame. Of course, the blue of Trump’s tie clashes with his strong-man posturing, leaving the viewer with a strange mix-mash of confusing imagery – speaking to a depiction of a Republican war-horse trying desperately to leave the body of a New York draft-dodger wearing the political colors of the Democratic party.
Still, and to his credit, Trump is very present on that book cover of his – more present than were the crowds at his Inauguration anyway – and though there is a great deal about this portrait that hints of an individual who is secretly insecure, impotent and ultimately pathetic, the President is to be applauded for his tremendous tremendous, tremendously successful presence on the front cover of that book of his.
And indeed, just as Trump lords over the cover photograph, the title of the book, “Crippled America” lords over the book’s subtitle (“how to make America great again”) as well, such that one feels that the bit about America being crippled is actually the good bit and the bit about making it great again is only a campaign motto… A campaign motto designed only to win an election and continue on with the crippling.
The copy I have is a hardcover, so naturally it is hard and straight-edged, and the back cover features praise from such notaries as Robert Redford and Mark Cuban – both of whom have since disavowed him.
Then there is the smell. When one opens up the jacket of the hardcover one is met with that partially-familiar scent of new book. And perhaps Trump himself is best thought of as a fragrance – a fragrance hinting at substance but lacking it nonetheless. Because unlike the earthy smell of fresh-pulped wood, the smell of my copy was a wholly synthetic one – more chemical than ambrosial. Likewise, in 2012, when Macy’s released Success, Trump’s very own eau de cologne, the reviewers also noted that it smelled not like Indian vetiver and fresh bamboo (as promised) but rather like “soap”. Artificial, distasteful, toxic to children. That’s the fragrance of Trump – and his book.
The words themselves fare no better either and much of the book reads like the label on one of his fragrances. The phrase “everyone is eating our lunch” appears in the first paragraph while “that’s not winning” forms the basis of the very next clause.
That said, by paragraph three we are invited to an infinitely more pleasing prospect when Trump alludes to a potential way out for everyone with a stake in his Presidency (hot tip: that’s everyone). “If I ran my business that way [the non-winning way],” Trump says of superpowers that don’t do enough winning. “I’d fire myself.”
One can only hope that America’s lunches keep get eating by others because right now it seems like a multinational blitzkrieg of lunch-eating is the only way we can all be rid of the man.
In the meantime, I hear that since Trump has become President, Crippled America: How to Make America Great has been republished as Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America with the emphasis now put on the “great again” part. First impressions of the reprint – there are substantial improvements in the cover design. It’s a nice touch but the words are the same so it’s kind of like the gold drapes in the Oval Office – a flashy distraction to avert one’s gaze from the empty vessel of a man sitting at the desk. I can only hold my breath for the next campaign book when Trump runs for a second term – impeachments notwithstanding. The title, I hear, will be called Dammit, Crippled Again but the President hasn’t thought of a subtitle yet***.
*** Note: I’ve had some great feedback about potential subtitles for the next campaign book. My favourite so far is “Dammit Crippled Again: But How About that Crowd Size?” In the spirit of internet collaboration, feel free to add your own in the comment section – even if you’re an alt-right troll.