If I ever needed proof of the triviality of contemporary media, I find it in the ginned-up hubbub over the "anonymous" author of O, the much-discussed new novel about the Obama White House.
About 15 minutes of literary detective work leads me to a likely suspect. According to Jonathan Karp, Simon and Schuster's Executive Vice President, "The author is someone who has been in the room with Barack Obama and knows his world intimately."
My candidate fills the bill. His Amazon biography tells us that this fellow "spent ample time at the White House and has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the Secret Service on presidential security overseas."
My suspect served as a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State for 23 years, but left government employ a few years back in order to devote full-time to his writing. He has written three novels. His name is James Bruno.
In 2006, Bruno wrote a novel called Chasm, described as an exposé of those Washington power brokers, "who, in pursuit of their own ambitions, take actions which trample on the little guy." In the novel, one meets a character distinctively named "Walter LaFontaine," a young aide to the president.
As it happens, in the novel O, the reader also meets a character named "Walter LaFontaine," one of the president's earliest supporters. This is either an extraordinary coincidence, a bit of authorial sloppiness, or a clue. I suspect "clue."
Given Bruno's knowledge of the White House, his friendship with the Secret Service, his novelistic ambitions, and the otherwise inexplicable repetition of the name "Walter LaFontaine," Bruno has to be a serious candidate for the authorship of "O."
In the one brief excerpt of O that I found, there were enough distinctive word matches to keep me interested-"taunting," "alluring," "predator," and a "chin" fixation -- but not enough evidence to convict. It will not be hard to make a final judgment once the novel is released.
If only the media would pay some smidgen of this attention to a more consequential mystery, the authorship of Barack Obama's semi-fictional memoir, Dreams from My Father. Those interested in literary deceptions of consequences are invited to read my new book, Deconstructing Obama, to be released February 15.