The DCeiver lurked around for the live chat between Jonathan Yardley and the online lit lovers that love him as he chatted up the new Jessica Cutler book. Our comments in red.
Washington, D.C.: I read the blog online, is the book any different? Or just a rehash of the blog?
Jonathan Yardley: I haven't read the blog. I decided that life (or at least my life) is too short for blogs, so I don't read them.
This is Washington Post-ese for: "Be sure to check out MY shit-ass new blog! Debuting next week! Fuck indie rock!"
Washington, D.C.: How juicy/racey is the book? PG-13 or R? or X even?
Jonathan Yardley: Well, definitions of "juicy" seem to get more liberal by the hour. In my youth it would have been banned by the Pope, but now it's probably no worse than PG-13.
Ratzinger loves him some ass.
Arlington, Va.: Is there any reason to read this book after seeing any of the initial media buzz surrounding her tawdry disclosures? She, like most of the Capitol Hill crowd, seems to know little about D.C. outside of their hermetically sealed, junior high, model U.N. world.
Jonathan Yardley: Can't tell if you've had a chance to read my review in today's Post. In it I say that for about 1/4 of the way it's a pretty sharp commentary on certain aspects of Washington. It slows down considerably after that.
"Yeeesss. Apropos of nothing, I'd like to remind you that I am quite the book reviewer."
Succasunna, N.J.: How does Miss Cutler's novel stack up against other Washington, D.C. sex-scandal books? Any recommended books in this genre?
Jonathan Yardley: To be perfectly honest I can't remember the title of the last DC sex scandal book I read. It's a very minor literary genre. The Brits do it much better.
Be sure to check out The Enfragranced Minge of Lady Winterbottom by Sir James Wellington Threapleshirewaite and I Want Your Newcastle Upon Mine by Tina Brown.
Laurel, Md.: So in her autobiographical novel, does she finish college?
Why on earth is the Post treating this unimportant work by a silly, trashy, wannabee as worthy of a review and chat?
Did someone on your staff ghost-write it?
Jonathan Yardley: The Post is a NEWSpaper. Like it or not, In DC Jennifer Cutler is news. The book had to be reviewed, here if not many other places. I have no idea what makes you think someone on the Post's staff ghost-wrote it. I have no idea who actually wrote it. There is at least the outside possibility that Jennifer Cutler did.
Deciding for themselves what constitute news would, of course, require that newspapers adopt these things called standards. How then, would Elisabeth Bumiller feed herself?
New York, NY.: Why do you think the world is so interested in this one woman's story -- is it because she got paid for the sex? Or because people have nothing better to do?
Jonathan Yardley: See previous answer about the book's newsworthiness.
Uh, John? I looked at your previous answer. The question was: "Why do you think people are interested in Cutler?" You're answer is: "Because she's news." Milo Minderbinder much? Is the serpent that eats it's own tail so far up your ass that you can't offer even a theory? Someone needs to get their a prioris straight.
Washington, D.C.: i saw the book in B and N last night, and couldn't for the life of me figure out why anyone would buy it -- especially when the archive of Cutler's blog is still online. Do we really want to reward an obviously borderline young woman who can't keep her pants zipped or her lip buttoned?
Jonathan Yardley: You get no argument for me, but there's no accounting for taste -- one's own or other people's.
Jonathan, when you say "she's a good writer if she wrote it herself"--which you'll do throughout the chat--you actually are both offering an argument and accounting for your taste.
Alexandria, Va.: So, is it entertaining? Will I enjoy it on its own merit, without knowing the people involved?
Jonathan Yardley: Depends on what amuses you. I found it rather amusing for a while, then had to work to finish it.
Getting paid to read make brain hurt no good.
Washington, D.C.: How well written is the book? If it hadn't been for the scandal (such as it was) that generated interest from publishers, would it have been bought under its own merits?
Jonathan Yardley: Well enough, but, again, I don't know how it actually was written. I'm sure that at the least she had careful editorial help. But I've certainly read far worse prose by Washingtonians ostensibly more eminent than Cutler.
cf. This very moment of your life.
Norfolk, Va.: Does the former aide, Ms. Cutler, drop names or does she use adjectives to describe the various folks on the hill, in her book?
Jonathan Yardley: The names are fictitious. I don't remember the adjectives, but some of them are far from flattering.
I think "gassy" was one. "My pussy opened like a ginormous handbag," was another.
Arlington, Va.: In her book, is Ms. Cutler not the least bit worried that whatever she might want for her future, whether it be a job or a man, might forever be rendered impossible due to her spitting upon the biggest intruder into every day life with the longest reaches into the business world: the federal government? I do not believe she will have the last laugh here.
Jonathan Yardley: I suspect the Feds have biggeer fish to fry. Jessica Cutler is strictly a minnow.
Mmmm. That's right. Spit upon my big intruder. It's got a long reach. Oh, yeah. Let's fry up some fish.
Clifton, Va.: Jonathan, am I right to perceive that you're a bit annoyed at having to cover this book instead of something a bit more ... pick a word: presitgious? Weighty? Lasting?
Jonathan Yardley: Not at all. I volunteered to review the book. I review two books a week 48 weeks a year, and if I don't have some variety I'll go stale and my readers will be the first to know it. Besides, with the title Book Critic of The Washington Post goes the responsibility of taking on books of particular interest within the paper's ckirculation area. Thus, for example, about a year ago I volunteered to struggle through more than 1500 pages in two books by Hillary Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal. "The Washingtonienne" is much better.
You mean to say you "volunteered to struggle through" books by Clinton and Blumenthal and no one greeted you as a liberator?
Baltimore, Md.: On an unrelated note...I recently remembered how much I loved Death in Venice in high school and randomly picked up Buddenbrooks, which I have just begun. I can't believe Mann was 25 when he wrote it! Do you have any other recommendations in the same vein as him -- I have heard Proust. I also loved V. Woolf's To the Lighthouse if that gives any indication of the type I am looking for.
Also, re: Joseph Conrad, what do you think about The Secret Agent?
Jonathan Yardley: Except for "Death in Venice," I haven't been able to cut it with Mann. Too ponderous for me. BTW, a new translation of "Death in Venice" has just been published, though I haven't read it yet. Conrad? Everything he did was terrific.
Ana Marie can do a better job with "cut it with Mann" than I can.
Decatur, Ga.: Jonathan Yardley: aims to cash in before its author vanishes from the public eye. As, I promise, she soon will.
Whoa! Don't you think this clever young lady will leverage this into a career as a "B-lister" ala Donna Rice?
Jonathan Yardley: Is Donna Rice still around? Didn't she get religion? Somehow I don't see Jessica Cutler getting religion, though I'm sure a warm seat awaits her on one of those television Gong Shows. Perhaps she can swap political insights with John McLaughlin and Chris Matthews, and she might just be more interesting than either of them.
Totally. She can go on Chris Matthews' show and Zell Miller can challenge Matthews to a duel. Inside Cutler's pussy. Which is as big as a handbag. Like I said.
Richmond, Va.: Based on your review and today's comments, your measured enjoyment of this book is doing wonders for your (probably unfair) rep as a curmudgeon.
Jonathan Yardley: GRRRRRRRRR.
...eeeeaaaat? Dude. Thurl Ravenscroft is dead. Don't joke.
Alexandria, Va.: It is my understanding that Ms. Cutler is being sued by one of her "partners" from the blog (identified as RS). Is his character included in the book?
Jonathan Yardley: Yeah, I read about that somewhere, but I know no more about it than you do.
Oh. But I do. His name is Robert Steinbuch and he likes to be dressed up like a baby and have his ankles nibbled. Everyone says so. Then he likes to sue people. Because Robert Steinbuch is a large, large asshole.
Washington, D.C.: As a Groton graduate, have you or will you read Prep? Any thoughts on it?
Jonathan Yardley: I have "Prep" on my coffeetable and very much want to read it, but it may be a while. I'd have reviewed it, except that I had a pleasant e-mail exchange with Curtis Sittenfeld that diminished my objectivity. Right now I'm trying to teach myself Spanish and am only reading the books I really have to read.
"Uggghhh...objectivity...diminishing. Must...learn...Spanish. Help me, Groton...help meeeeee!"
Carl's Corner, Tex.: Is is just me, or do a lot of these questions betray hostility and anger towards Jessica Cutler? What's the motivation? Do these folks feel threatened by a young lady who exploits herself and D.C. for a fleeting moment of glory? Or is it something more personal? Insecurity? Jealousy?
Washington, D.C..: Why am I not surprised at sanctimony of all (most) of the readers of this chat. These "oh-gasp" sentiments and condescending, self-important reactions are exactly what the sexy Miss Cutler appears to be lampooning.
People in D.C. simply cannot take a joke. Sure, she's a joke. Have a laugh (or not) and get over yourselves.
Jonathan Yardley: In response to the two questions above: I don't find many of these queries especially sanctimonious. It's sure true, though, that DC can't take a joke. The city is as humor-challenged as Bill Frist.
Get it! Bill Frist! He thinks AIDS can spread through tears! AND, he's a medical DOCTOR!! That's hilarious! So not sad or frightening.
Washington, D.C.: In its niche -- trashy, tell-all fiction about young female narrator who willingly prostitutes herself for proxmity to reflected fame, money, power, whatever -- how does Jessica Cutler's Washington (Capitol Hill)-focused work stack up with the more typical Los Angeles (movie biz) or New York (modeling/fashion)-focused works by the "giants" in this field, like, say, Candace Bushnell?
Jonathan Yardley: Actually, aim higher. Read Edith Wharton and Theodore Dreiser. Basically the story is the same, but the treatment is a whole lot better.
You actually did it, didn't you? You likened The Washingtonienne with Jennie Gerhardt! Jonathan Yardley, you are one crafty fucking bastard.
Alexandria, Va.: The sunny season is upon us. (Hah!) Should I snatch this one up as a summer read? If not, what book should I share my beach blanket with? Personally, I can't get enough of the sordid sexcapades of the rich and powerful, having cut my molars on "Advise And Consent".
Jonathan Yardley: If you cut your molars on "Advise and Consent," your molars must be as venerable as mine are. Try the novels by Nina Killham and Julia Slavin that I mention above. They'd be fun on the beach, and they're also very good books.
"I accidentally cut my aging molars on some snatch."
Alexandria, Va.: As an avid reader of her old blog, I must say I found it witty and humorous, even if it was lewd and crude. I am hoping the book is the same way. From your review, it seems that she shows some flashes of brilliance (for lack of a better word) in the novel. I think the girl might truly have some talent as a writer (not to mention her other, um, talents).
Jonathan Yardley: If you don't take it too seriously, the book is fun.
But if you DO take it seriously, the Post will pay you to read it.