Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg
Paris, France
December 31
Writer, copy editor, translator, travel planner. Head servant to my cat.
A reader, a writer, a fingernail biter, a cat person, a traveller, a cookie inhaler, an immigrant, a dreamer. …And now, self-employed! If you like my blog and if you're looking for sparkling writing, painstaking proofreading, nimble French-English translation, or personalized travel planning, feel free to check out


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APRIL 4, 2012 12:52PM

I got into the Clown Car

Rate: 19 Flag
cranky book 
Like many of you reading this, I'm a big fan of OSer Cranky Cuss.  Not only do I enjoy his writing; having met him in person recently, I can attest that he's a genuinely witty, nice guy.
So when I heard he was publishing a book, my first reaction was utter excitement.  When I found out what the book was about, though, I was in a bit of a pickle.
Send in the Clown Car: The Race for the White House 2012 is a series of satirical political essays -- most, as the title suggests, pertaining to current events and the 2012 Presidential race.  
There's nothing inherently wrong with this, of course, unless you're just not that into politics.  Let me put it this way: I can tell you Edgar Allan Poe's birthdate, but not the date the President will be elected. I can name every person on Jersey Shore, but I have no idea who the Speaker of the House is.  I'm even only about 95% sure Joe Biden is our Vice President, and not a football player.  I mean, doesn't "Joe Biden" sound like a football player name?
So how could a person like me appreciate Cranky's book?
Still, my respect for the guy and confidence in his writing abilities made me take the plunge, and I bought a copy.  I was on a visit to the U.S. for the past few weeks (during which time I watched a marathon of My Strange Addiction episodes, and the Jersey Shore reunion special, and not a single second of news programming....), but my long plane ride home (with squash-stuffed pasta for dinner - ugh) and some stolen moments these past few days have given me time to tackle Cranky's book.
Actually, it turns out "tackle" isn't really the right verb.  Because despite my (perhaps disturbing) political ignorance, I actually found Send in the Clown Car to be a fun, breezy read.  What I love about Cranky's writing is that there are moments of seriousness, and intelligence runs through everything he does (including my favorite post of his so far, an account of being attacked by a goose), but there's such a pleasant, down-to-earth tone, and humor that ranges from mild joking to biting satire, too. The essays in Send in the Clown Car are, thankfully, no exception.   I got some great chuckles through many of the pieces, and maybe, just maybe, learned something.
But what I appreciated most about the book (well, besides the piece about Abraham Lincoln's blog, or the brilliantly executed -no pun intended! - satire on joining the NRA, or the very astute modern fable "Louie Liberal and Chucky Conservative"), and what motivated me to get my political-polar-opposite dad a copy, is that Cranky makes fun of just about everyone.  All parties and individuals are fair game. Even Santa Claus is presented in a new and potentially shocking light.
I can't say I understood 100% of what I read.  But I did have fun, and I sincerely think that Cranky's book is probably the best political satire a person like me could read.  
In writing this honest review, I hope Cranky will see that I'm paying him a compliment: If I can enjoy his book, I bet a person who's closely following the Presidential race - or even barely paying attention to it, who am I kidding - will find it absolutely delightful.  So if you or someone you know are/is a fan of politics, satire, and having a few laughs at modern life, Send in the Clown Car  (which is available on the Kindle or as a physical book with a nifty cover created by Cranky's daughter Michelle and designed by OS's own dianaani)  would be a great read.
Second compliment to Cranky: As far as my baggage weight allowance and book budget went, it was between Send in the Clown Car and Snooki's opus, Confessions of a Guidette.  I chose Cranky, and I don't regret it!

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I'm back in Paris and have so much going on, but hopefully will be fully back on OS in the next few days to catch up on my reading!
Great choice! Who's Snooki?
Great review and well deserved by Cranky.
Cranky's book sounds like just the thing
for a former political junkie
like me. Oh, how I used to invest immense emotional energy
to "my" candidates...
starting with Carter in 1976, when i was 9!

I have given it up.
My idea of the ultimate president, John Kerry, whom i had hoped
for years & years would run,
let me down. By being just
another politician...

I am happy you are safe at home in Paris after your ill-advised
trip back here, where things are weird & dangerous
and godawful STUPID.
Don't worry about catching up on any reading.
Stay on the cusp of the moment, is my advice.
Ride the zeitgeist.
Lots of important things jump up and then are swallowed.
OS! "The City in the Sea" (POE):
"And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence."

Glad to have u back, hope you have tales to tell
and photos, etc..
Welcome back. Now step away from the Snooki book and no one will get hurt.
Loved Cranky's book. Glad you made it back safely to Paris. So bummed I couldn't be in NYC to meet you. Soon, though. I just know it. xoxo
Love me some Cranky Cuss. I have the book and am almost done. I too am not political but this book is terrific.I plan to review it by Monday. This was a great review. Glad you are safely back in Paris. Glad to see a new post by you about our fine friend.
My daughter just returned from a teacher exchange program in Marseille. She thinks France is the land of sanity in all things, especially food. I'm glad you're back safe among the sane.
I am half-way through my copy. Since I do tend to follow politics fairly closely, I probably laugh out loud twice as often as you did, Alysa. The Crankster is a master of satire, no doubt about it.

Yay! You're back! It occurs to me that this is a weird thing to say considering you were actually here, and now you're back in Paris, but anyway... Yay! I don't have your excuse for not following what's going on politically, unless wanting to preserve my sanity counts as a good excuse. But you have convinced me, with this great review, that maybe I should give Cranky's book a spin. I do like to laugh!
Yay Cranky! Thanks for the honest review, mon cheri.
Nicest thing ever said to me: I chose Cranky's book over Snooki's.

Thanks for the kind words, Alysa, and if Rick Santorum is elected President, I'll be moving to Paris too.

Nah, just kidding, I went with THE WIT AND WISDOM OF MICHELLE BACHMANN. Cranky suggested it!! It's like two pages!!! Including the title page and the index!! ~:D
Great review. Maybe I should have you review mine./r
Tink: The best thing about "The Wit and Wisdom of Michele Bachmann" was the author's name: Hedda Lettuce.
I knew about your Cranky fixation, but not your Snookie fetish. How much did Cranky pay you for this international book review?
Reading Cranky's book is on my "to do" list...I guess I need to get it "ta done!"
Joe Biden was indeed a football player, a defensive halfback for the Delaware Blue Hens, back when the helmet's didn't offer much protection to the brain.
I'm so proud to know you both. Hope Cranky hasn't forgotten how to post on OS. He is missed by me.