To discuss the book, Salon asked Curtis Sittenfeld, author of the acclaimed novels “American Wife” (a compassionate, fictionalized history of Laura Bush) and “Prep” (a keenly observed coming-of-age tale), to interview Traister over the phone. A transcript of their conversation follows.
For me, reading this book, there were so many revelations. I thought I had followed the election closely, but as I read I kept thinking, “Oh, I never saw that. I never realized that.” I think a lot of people who read the book will have a similar reaction to mine, but I also think that before cracking it open, before buying it, people might think: What is there that's left to say about the 2008 election? Do you feel like you're fighting an uphill battle in terms of that perception?
When Michiko Kakutani wrote her “Game Change” review in the New York Times, she started with some sentiment like, “Ugh, who needs another book about the election?” But my reaction to that — and every other book that is going to come out about the election, including mine — is that, oh my God, everything in America was busted open during that election. Between race and gender and Obama and Hillary and Palin, there was so much that had never happened before in American history. There will be scores more books about this election, and each of them will offer their own set of revelations about this election, which happens to be a completely gripping narrative, by the way. The greatest thing that happened to me writing this book was remembering how great the story of the election is, so even if you lived it, even though I'd written about it as it was taking place, when I went back to write about it in retrospect, I was like, “Did that really happen?”