New York Times literary critic Michiko Kakutani savages Bill Clinton’s autobiography. From a condensed version of Kakutani’s review appearing in the Arizona Republic:
As his celebrated 1993 speech in Memphis to the Church of God in Christ demonstrated, former President Bill Clinton is capable of soaring eloquence and visionary thinking. But he is also capable of numbing, self-conscious garrulity.
Unfortunately for the reader, Clinton’s much-awaited autobiography My Life, is long-winded and tedious.
The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull.
In many ways, the book is a mirror of Clinton’s presidency: lack of discipline leading to squandered opportunities; high expectations, undermined by self-indulgence and scattered concentration. […]
My Life reads like a messy pastiche of everything that Clinton ever remembered and wanted to set down in print; he even describes the time he got up at 4 a.m. to watch the inaugural ceremonies for Nigeria’s new president on TV. There are endless litanies of meals eaten, speeches delivered, voters greeted and turkeys pardoned. There are some fascinating sections about Clinton’s efforts to negotiate a Middle East peace agreement (at one point, he suggests that Yasser Arafat seemed confused, not fully in command of the facts and possibly no longer at the top of his game), but there are also tedious descriptions of long-ago political debates in Arkansas. There are some revealing complaints about missteps at the FBI under Louis Freeh’s watch, but there are also dozens of pointless digressions about matters like zombies in Haiti and ruins in Pompeii.Is the nations most influential newspaper part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy as well? No doubt Clinton supporters will be making such accusations. If the book is as bad as the Times says it is that’s a shame, because the subject matter held such promise. Love him or hate him, Clinton was interesting.