Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump impersonation is, in my opinion (and the opinions really vary, as Flavorwire TV editor Lara Zarum’s very different take on Baldwin’s Trump demonstrates), so facially exaggerated and grotesque as to make it almost perfectly hard to watch, allowing us to cast that image back onto the President himself as we experience him. Baldwin’s impersonation also visibly and effectively upsets Donald Trump (but so does…seemingly any criticism). But — this Trump has also been playing on repeat for quite a while. And now Baldwin’s Trump is being turned into a satirical book, co-conceived by novelist/Studio 360 radio host Kurt Anderson and Baldwin.
This news might therefore provoke more of a question mark than a feeling of immediate triumph. As Lara’s piece admonished, satire, if repeated too invariably, can be subsumed in the spectacle of the thing it’s satirizing. So…hopefully it’ll be biting and funny? But maybe it’ll feel tired and opportunistic? Or maybe our perception of literally the whole world around us will be unrecognizable by the time it’s published, so who the hell knows?
It’s key to note that, as the New York Times emphasizes, Anderson was also the co-founder of Spy magazine, a satirical publication that often set its sights on Trump, decades before anyone would ever fathom putting “President” in front of his name. Spy magazine was published between 1986 and 1998, and often excoriated the New York financial elite. NPR wrote in March 2016, “no journalists have followed Trump more closely. No journalists have angered him more often” than Anderson and co-founder Graydon Carter.
The book, which Penguin Press will publish in November (so, around the anniversary of Trump’s election), is titled You Can’t Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President Donald J. Trump; an accompanying audiobook will be read by Baldwin.
The novelist said of Baldwin’s Trump, “It is extreme, and with a guy like Donald Trump, to be effective it needs to be extreme.” It does sound like Anderson’s goal, at least, is to go deeper and get more specific than the broadly funny SNL sketches have. He said, “I think we’ll be channeling and amplifying the real Trump. Writing for a five- or 10-minute sketch is different than writing a book, which has to be a narrative.”
Baldwin told the Times that most of the writing will be done by Anderson — and that his main role will be giving a (familiar) voice to it.
Here’s the cover: