The Columnistby Jeffrey Frank
Simon & Schuster, 237 pp., $22
Idiots come in all guises. Even a powerful political columnist in Washington can be a doofus, judging from New Yorker senior editor Jeffrey Frank's The Columnist, a hilarious novel framed as the memoir of Brandon Sladder, a pompous, emotionally fumbling, name-dropping cad (of course, no less a name than George H.W. Bush persuaded Sladder that he should set down his recollections). Sladder may have written an important syndicated column and rubbed shoulders with some of the most influential figures of the 20th century, but he manages, with frightening fixity, to get the essence of just about everything endearingly wrong. Given its subject, The Columnist is a strangely irresistible satire; Sladder is the pundit you love to hate.