Lawrence Wright’s Rollicking Satire of Texas Politics

Paul Begala in The New York Times:

“Built for giants, inhabited by pygmies.” That’s what the legendary Texas politician Bob Eckhardt used to tell awe-struck visitors about the Texas Capitol. The Goddess of Liberty, who stands atop Austin’s dome, peers down 302 feet at the mortals below, 14 feet higher than the U.S. Capitol.

As a University of Texas law student in 1985, I was one of those pygmies. I worked for a 20-something cowboy turned newbie state representative. So, when I encountered Sonny Lamb, I felt like I’d known him for years.

Lamb is the protagonist of Lawrence Wright’s rollicking satire “Mr. Texas.” He is a soldier-rancher-failure who, by way of accidental heroism and a Machiavellian lobbyist, finds himself elected to the Texas Legislature. This is where Mr. Wright’s task becomes daunting: parodying politicians who are, in real life, parody-proof. When I worked at the Legislature, the speaker of the House was Gib Lewis, a good ol’ boy from Fort Worth who loved hunting and feared polysyllabic words. He was a veritable redneck Yogi Berra. How do you satirize a place where the speaker of the House once said, “This is unparalyzed in the state’s history,” and “I cannot tell you how grateful I am; I am filled with humidity”?

More here.