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In his latest laugh-out-loud book of political verse, Calvin Trillin provides a riotous depiction of the 2012 presidential election campaign. Dogfight is a narrative poem interrupted regularly by other poems and occasionally by what the author calls a pause for prose ( Callista Gingrich, Aware That Her Husband Has Cheated On and Then Left Two Wives Who Had Serious Illnesses, Tries Desperately to Make Light of a Bad Cough ). With the same barbed wit he displayed in the bestsellers Deciding the Next Decider, Obliviously On He Sails, and A Heckuva Job, America s deadline poet trains his sights on the Tea Party ( These folks were quick to vocally condemn/All handouts but the ones that went to them ) and the slapstick field of contenders for the Republican mination ( Though first-tier candidates were mostly out, /Republicans were asking, What about/The second tier or what about the third?/Has thing from those other tiers been heard? ). There is an ode to Michele Bachmann, sung to the tune of a Beatles classic ( Michele, our belle/Thinks that gays will all be sent to hell ) and passages on the exit of candidates like Herman Cain ( Although his patter in debates could tickle, /Cain s pool of kwledge seemed less pool than trickle ) and Rick Santorum ( The race will miss the purity/That you alone endow./We ll never find ather man/Who s holier than thou. ) On its way to the November 6 finale, Trillin s narrative takes us through such highlights as the January caucuses in frigid Iowa ( To listen to long speeches is your duty, /And getting there could freeze off your patootie ), the Republican convention ( It seemed like Clint, his chair, and their vignette/Had wandered in from some adjoining set ), and Mitt Romney s secretly recorded 47 percent speech, which inspired the I Got the Mitt Thinks I m a Moocher, a Taker t a Maker, Blues.
A longtime staff writer at The New Yorker, Calvin Trillin is also The Nation s deadline poet, at a fee he has been complaining about since 1990. His acclaimed books range from the memoir About Alice to Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff. He lives in New York.