Arnon Grunberg



On the truth, the free market and books - Edmund Gordon in TLS:

'With its careful pace and anxious prose, A Warning does at least have the ring of truth, which is more than can be said for Triggered by Donald Trump Jr (popularly known as DJTJ, he’s the Trump son with the Brylcreem and the beard). It is part political memoir, part smear job on “the left” and part shameless exercise in brand management. Its greatest unifying quality is its near-total lack of authenticity. It feels wrong even when it can’t be proved wrong (which it very often can). A chapter meant to establish the author’s everyman credentials tells a preposterously shmaltzy story about how he was “cut off” by his father after graduating from college, but welcomed back to the bosom of the family after 9/11. The chapters on gender identity and the Green New Deal, meanwhile, so blatantly fudge nuanced debates (“men shouldn’t be branded transphobic just because they’re not lining up to date women with beards and penises”; “[Democrats] want to spend what would be the equivalent of about fifteen years of the US government’s revenue to stop cows from farting”) that it seems possible DJTJ simply doesn’t understand the issues involved.'


'As a stylist and a thinker, DJTJ will find his closest peers among the drunks propping up the bar in any late-night pub. His prose, squawking with oh-by-the-ways and in-case-you-haven’t- noticeds, combines notes of raw self-pity (“as the son of a rich white guy living in 2019, I’m essentially not allowed to have an opinion any more”), lumbering sarcasm (“the Socialist, I mean, Democrat, Party”), shameless braggadocio (“I consider myself a pretty handsome guy”), wild-eyed paranoia (“there are forces deep within our government trying to bury evidence of wrongdoing against my father”) and nudge-wink racism (“I’ll bet that when [the Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar] watches Black Hawk Down, she roots for the Somali warlords”). To say that this voice is difficult to warm to would be like saying that the Titanic is experiencing some delays. It is a dreadful wreck of sunken humanity.

In this, as in much else, DJTJ takes after his father. Far from using his authorial debut to step out of the paternal shadow, he seems determined not to stray an inch from its chilly radius. All of his obsessions have been inherited: “the Russia hoax”, “the deep state”, “the biased liberal media”, “Hillary”. And just as Trump Sr sells himself as a maverick politician, so Triggered self-consciously breaks the rules of the political memoir. It is violently opinionated, frequently foul-mouthed and deliberately offensive to large sections of the electorate. As an appeal to the Trump base, in other words, it hits all the right notes.

For the rest of us, it’s easy enough to laugh: at its frequently bizarre choice of targets (Cher, Teen Vogue) and its kamikaze rhetorical moves (is it really wise, for the scion of a family that is regularly forced to deny involvement in criminal activity, to fall back on quoting Michael Corleone in The Godfather?); at DJTJ’s surreal lack of self-awareness (as when he criticizes Joe Biden’s son Hunter for “hitching a ride on Daddy’s plane”) and the unintended effects of his scattershot prose (“his wife at the time once took a ride on my motocross bike and crashed it, seriously injuring herself. We remain friends to this day”). But ultimately, the laughter rings pretty hollow. It isn’t just that exposure to so much mendacity and bile starts to feel deeply unfunny. It’s that calling it out starts to feel like a profoundly useless activity. Readers of the TLS don’t need convincing not to buy Triggered, and admirers of Triggered will hardly be fazed by a snarky review in the TLS. The great achievement of the Trump family has been to turn the value of facts into just another branch of the free market, to be determined not by communal standards but by consumer choice. As DJTJ puts it: “The liberal press can write their little jokes until they run out of ink, for all I care”. For once, he actually sounds like he’s telling the truth.'

Read the article here.

Kurt Tucholsky, a well-read German columnist and writer in the thirties once said that despite all his popularity he never managed to get even the smallest Nazi official removed from his post.
This is truly repressive tolerance: it's not necessary anymore to destroy 'the liberal press' - the press won't change the mind of the voters who happen to be the enemy of the liberal press anyhow. We should therefore all be a bit modest and maybe a bit sad.
But there is at least one important sign that in this case repressive tolerance isn't working according to the wishes of DJTJ and his comrades, the father of DJTJ gets now and then very angry and annoyed because of what the liberal press is writing.
We continue because the possibility that we change somebody's mind should not be completely ruled out.

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