3 stars? Can we do 3 and a half?
Hey America: You don’t need literary credentials, an excellent command of the English language or even anything interesting to say in order to write a book these days. If you have the cash, or were featured on the cover of Wednesday’s National Enquirer, you can probably find a publisher who’s willing to market your masterpiece to the public. Take a classy, artfully posed photograph of yourself for the dust jacket, get renowned film and literary critic Larry King to give it a shout out on his show, and dictate your thoughts, hopes, opinions and dreams to your assistant. Spare nothing! Your adoring fans deserve the facts, whether it’s about your political beliefs, economic advice, best recipes, first sexual experience, sixth trip to rehab, favorite breakfast cereal or tear-jerking experience with botched plastic surgery.
Who better to poke fun of the ludicrously lucrative market of celebrity-penned non-fiction than Comedy Central’s resident celebrity, faux pundit Stephen Colbert? Despite his self-proclaimed hatred for books, the fervent supporter of capitalism, wrist-awareness and freedom just found another way to cash in, and for just $26.99, you can learn from his patriotic words of wisdom on topics like sex, the media, religion, animals and higher education. Nothing gets passed over as an object of Colbert’s derision and off-color remarks, but the satire is refreshingly self-mocking and not at all mean-spirited.
The book keeps up the deadpan, politically incorrect, completely ridiculous humor that makes “The Colbert Report” so entertaining, imitating some of the most hackneyed facets of bestselling literature. From its solemn dedication (“To America”) to the silver Nobel Prize-imitating seal on its cover (“The Stephen T. Colbert Award for the Literary Excellence”) to its Bible-imitating layout to its hyperbolic dust jacket review quotes (written by the author himself, no less), it scarily maintains some semblance of accuracy.
Both liberals and conservatives should be able to agree about one thing with regards to Colbert’s new book, I Am America (And So Can You!): It’s very, very funny, and it’s very, very long. Too long. Not that I have anything against long books – I hope to double major in English – but I’m used to dealing with and appreciating Colbert’s hyper, ridiculous, absurd brand of entertainment in nice, compact 30-minute segments, tempered by Jon Stewart’s more subdued sense of humor that precedes it every weeknight on Comedy Central.
Still, when read in small doses, it’s very entertaining. You’ll kind of hope somebody passes along a copy to Donald Trump, who’s put out more than a couple of books about himself that grace coffee tables and middle management offices all over America. Then again, he might not get the joke. Or he might be too busy laughing maniacally as he counts his earnings from his latest novel, Think BIG and Kick Ass in Business and Life, released earlier this October. Check out the dust jacket, and tell me you can’t see the similarity.