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Presidential fiction

Last January Newsweek caused a small stir when it reported that thepresident actually reads. White House aides assured the mag that George W.Bush loves nothing more than curling up with a good novel, specifically citing TomWolfe’s racy college romp I Am Charlotte Simmons. In February theNew York Times admiringly added that he had finished the 688-page tomeand was “enthusiastically recommending it to friends.” So the blogworld was understandably abuzz yesterday over a May 10 Reuters photo of thepresident toweling off after a bike ride, with a copy of Charlotte Simmonsin hand. If Bush really reads 20 to 30 pages every night beforebedtime, as he frequently claims, by May 10 he should have been into his fifthreading. Was the fiction-loving president so taken with Wolfe’s tale offrat-house debauchery that he’s re-read it four times in five months? Weposed the question to White House spokesman Allen Abney, who admits hehasn’t seen the photo. “But if the president is carrying abook,” he replied, “it’s pretty obvious he’s stillreading it.”