Book Reviews of “Raising Trump” by Ivana Trump and “The Kardashians” by Jerry Oppenheimer!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times Book Review yesterday included two scathing reviews of:  Raising Trump by Ivana Trump and The Kardashians by Jerry Oppenheimer.  Written by James Wolcott, a columnist for Vanity Fair, these are possibly the worst reviews I have ever read.  Wolcott was merciless. Here are a couple of excerpts:

“There are those who have fame thrust upon them, and those who thrust themselves upon fame like an invasion force. It is the latter troupe of shameless, relentless thrusters that occupies us here, the Trump and Kardashian clanships. Until fairly recently, family dynasties — whatever skeletons they may have had in their closets — thrived on a mantle of achievement handed down from generation to generation, whether we’re talking about the Adamses, Roosevelts, Rockefellers, Kennedys, Bushes or Flying Wallendas. Such a quaint ideal and needless effort this service obligation seems now, when exhibitionism in the pseudoraw is what gets rewarded, thanks in large measure to the phony theatrics of reality TV, which turned the social theorist Daniel Boorstin’s notion of a celebrity — someone famous for being famous — into a terrarium thronged with dance moms, mob wives and Honey Boo Boos. It has elevated into omnipresence those who would have otherwise played out a normal cycle in public awareness and then disappeared to pester us no more. Without “The Apprentice” and its successor, “The Celebrity Apprentice,” Donald Trump would have remained an egregious real estate self-promoter and gossip-column fixture, and his children minor adjuncts and boardroom props; without “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” the brood bearing that name would have been living footnotes to the O. J. Simpson murder trial. Instead, one family wields incalculable political power, the other pervades pop culture and fashion like an incurable virus. The two books under review offer peep-show views of preening lives and impostures before they went panoramic…

…Uppermost on the reader’s inquiring mind is how Ivana’s intimate perspective might help us unlock how the slick wheeler-dealer who charmed and courted her when she arrived in Manhattan in the 1970s — “an all-American good guy,” her instincts told her — mutated over the decades into a president so seething with ignorance, malice, prejudice and destruction. Some hints, that is, of how we got into our present predicament of being held hostage by a throbbing blister. And here Ivana is little help whatsoever. The Trump at the center of this mystery melodrama is mostly a phantom, a fitful gust of pique and an offstage rumble.

“Raising Trump” does offer a glimpse into the trivial tyrant power Trump’s father, Fred, exercised, expecting everyone at the lunch table to order steak after he does, miffed when Ivana alone breaks ranks and orders fish. “No, she’ll have the steak,” Fred tells the waiter, but Ivana holds firm. Donald doesn’t back Ivana up then or afterward, but rather is displeased that she didn’t knuckle under: “Why didn’t you just have a friggin’ steak?” “Raising Trump” also provides a window into Donald’s pettiness when he pulls on Ivanka’s ski pole during a family race down the slope in order to win — cheating to beat his own young daughter! Pranks, deceptions and convenient absences come to a head in Aspen, when a young hussy swoops down on Ivana’s restaurant table and introduces herself. “I’m Marla and I love your husband. Do you?”

He concludes his Raising Trump review with “I’vana throw up.”

I could not finish the review of “The Kardashians.”


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