Sarah Palin may not really be able to see Russia from her house, even though Tina Fey pretended she could when she famously impersonated the then-governor of Alaska on “Saturday Night Live” last year. But can she see the anti-Palin book-mongers hot on her trail?
They should be pretty easy to spot: When Palin’s memoir, “Going Rogue: An American Life,” hits bookstores on Nov. 17, it will face competition from OR Books’ “Going Rouge: An American Nightmare,” being released the same day.
The anti-Palin book, compiled by Richard Kim and Betsy Reed, senior editors at the left-leaning The Nation magazine, claims to offer up “the real Palin.”
Kim’s agent suggested he do a book with the same release date as Palin’s “Going Rogue.” But with less than a month to work with, Kim, along with Reed, decided to pull together an anthology of essays that look critically at Palin.
The essays come from various publications, including The Nation, The Wall Street Journal and The Anchorage Daily News, as well as from bloggers. The result is a scathing take on Palin’s verbal missteps, her political views and her role as an American celebrity.
“We’re not capitalizing on Palin as much as taking the opportunity to offer people a choice, a different perspective on her,” Reed said.
There’s more behind the book’s title than just a humorous rearranging of letters.
“We’re really sensitive to the position Sarah Palin finds herself in as an attractive woman in Republican politics,” Reed explained. “The title isn’t making fun of her wearing makeup, but instead the media attention that’s been given to her personal image — part of what we call ‘the nature of Palinism.’ ”
Confusing for readers?
What’s garnered the most attention about the book is the similarity of its cover to Palin’s memoir. Both covers show a smiling Palin dressed in red. But “Going Rouge,” subtitled “An American Nightmare,” shows dark, imposing storm clouds in the background, while Palin’s shows a bright blue sky.
The blogosphere has been buzzing with tongue-in-cheek predictions about “Going Rouge” confusing customers who are actually trying to buy “Going Rogue.” But, Reed says, that’s not likely to happen.
“Anyone who looks at the cover for more than half a second can tell that it’s not the same book,” she said. “But maybe we have too high of an opinion of Palin book buyers.”
“Going Rouge” is available for pre-order only through the publisher’s Web site, ORBooks.com, while “Going Rogue” can be purchased online and through bookstores.
Though the cover of “Going Rouge” is clearly a parody of Palin’s memoir, the book is not, the editors say, pointing to the caliber of writers included in it. Among the book’s contributors are Hanna Rosin, contributing editor at The Atlantic; historian Rick Perlstein; iconic feminist Gloria Steinem and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.
Still, Kim says, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t fun to be had at Palin’s expense. The book has a section titled “Palintology,” which includes some of the politician’s infamous idioms, excerpts from the notorious Katie Couric interview that helped catapult Tina Fey to superstardom and a chapter on her top 25 tweets.
In addition, the chapter titled “The Poetry of Sarah Palin” takes her own words and puts them in haiku form:
You Can’t Blink
You can’t blink. You have to be wired In a way of being So committed to the mission, The mission that we’re on, Reform of this country, And victory in the war, You can’t blink. So I didn’t blink. To Charles Gibson, ABC News, September 11, 2008
“Yes, there are a lot of jokes, but what we’re putting together is an alternative take on her,” said Kim. “Palin is writing a biography furthering herself as a brand, a celebrity and a candidate. It’s a one-sided take on the government, her views and her candidacy. What we’re doing is the other side, enlisting people who know her record, know what she did on the campaign trail.”
A deluge of ‘Rouge’
“Going Rouge: An American Nightmare” isn’t the only book on the block trying to make Palin’s face red. In an unrelated venture, “Going Rouge: The Sarah Palin Rogue Coloring & Activity Book” will also be released on Nov. 17. At first blush, the book, the brainchild of graphic artists Michael Stinson and Julie Sigwart, seems like something for the kiddies, but it’s actually a book of anti-Palin editorial cartoons.
“There are going to be people who read Palin’s book and people who read anti-Palin books,” Sigwart said. “How effective are they? The coloring book has simple pictures in essence, but they are editorial cartoons that are making a statement about the policies and beliefs of Sarah Palin.”
In the book, readers can dress a paper-doll Palin in cutouts of an Alaskan wolf-fur stole accessorized with a shotgun, or a “Campaign to Nowhere” T-shirt. There are also puzzles, mazes and other cartoons digging for laughs.
“This is not your mother’s cartoon book,” Stinson said. “My son tries to play the ‘Help Sarah Find Her Way to the White House’ maze — but it’s impossible to do, so it’s frustrating for him.”
The anti-Palin books seem to be a blip on the radar compared to the waves the star politician’s book has been making. HarperCollins, the publisher of “Going Rogue,” announced an initial printing of 1.5 million copies. The memoir has been at the top of Amazon.com’s best-seller list for weeks, just from pre-order sales.
HarperCollins spokeswoman Tina Andreadis had no comment on the “Going Rouge” books.
Palin will kick off her book tour by appearing on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” on Nov. 16, then doing a five-part interview for “Good Morning America” beginning Nov. 17.