Gaddafi Mourns Fictional Astronaut, Writes Books

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Incorporating Washington Post Book World.It would be a shame if the Brit-Frog-Yank bombs raining down on Libya right now destroyed any libraries or bookstores. Not because books are valuable or important (they aren’t; the Internet proves that, scientifically) but because “short story” collections written by one of humankind’s more outlandish dictators are curiosities worth preserving (unlike “books” in general). It’s one thing to blow up Gaddafi’s tanks and artillery; it’s quite another to incinerate copies of the Colonel’s collection of “stories,” Escape to Hell. Because God, what insights.

Many dictators seem to fancy themselves writers of one sort or another. Mao Zedong banned all kinds of poetry except patriotic hymns about grain production, but he made an exception for himself and his entire adult life wrote academic imitations of classical Chinese poetry. Stalin, while not much a writer himself, took a serious interest in Russia’s best writers (by killing them). Saddam Hussein wrote trashy romance novels and flowery poetry; that actually seems to be how he was spending most of his time when the U.S. invaded in ’03. He continued to write in prison, even after he was sentenced to death. Kim Jong-il has apparently written books about his theories of film.

Colonel Gaddafi’s preferred form is what this Guardian review calls “rambling prose feuilletons.” The feuilleton was a proto-blog post form popular among newspaper readers in Weimar Germany and the former Austro-Hungarian Empire in the ’20s-’30s, and in America too, because back then eccentric billionaires occasionally paid good writers to write whatever they wanted.  Wide-ranging columns or essays about whatever, basically, filtered through the writer’s experience (taking a walk around town, running into a crippled prostitute in a bar late at night, passing out in a steam bath, etc.).

ANYWAY, this is exactly what Gaddafi does in Escape to Hell. These aren’t stories at all, but stream-of-consciousness rants against cities, Islamic fundamentalism (Muammar hates it too!), and the loneliness of the astronaut life. He celebrates the Bedouin lifestyle of tents on the open dunes; he accuses city life of leading to kidney theft and other crimes (this is pretty much true, right?); he tells a fable about an astronaut who realizes he doesn’t understand life on Earth and kills himself (this one is called “The Astronaut’s Suicide”). In one piece, “Stop Fasting When You See the New Moon,” Gaddafi reveals a strange regard for 1991 chart-topper General Norman Schwarzkopf.

He also tells us a bit about his career as a teevee journalist:

A herb has been discovered in the plains of Benghazi, and it is now sold at Hajj Hasan’s shop. In a television interview I personally conducted with him, and which was seen by more than three million people, Hajj Hasan said that the herb was a cure for the mentally disturbed. As for those who have not yet become mentally disturbed, Hajj Hasan said nothing about them.

The fact that Colonel Gaddafi writes stories and essays at all brings up all kinds of questions. For example:

Does Gaddafi write longhand, perhaps in one of his tents, surrounded by lethal virgin bodyguards? Or does he bang this stuff out on a computer plugged into an oil well, or maybe even a Soviet-made typewriter?

Given his day job he probably DICTATED the whole thing, HI-OHHHHH!!!

We apologize. Moving on: if you enjoy surreal, unfocused, unedited essays about politics and life, Escape to Hell is for you.

It’s a pitiful thing that pretty soon Gaddafi might not even have a job. For reasons no one can quite explain (Nicolas Sarkozy was fed up with Carla strumming her guitar and singing English poetry, in her underwear, all day? Barack Obama decided 2.5 wars at a time wasn’t enough? David Cameron, uhhhh…um…well, at least he consulted Hogwarts or whatever it’s called). What will the colonel DO when he gets unseated by the rebels and their Western allies?

You should probably email Commanding Editor Ken Layne and ask him to hire Gaddafi as a Wonkette writer. Then again, that would mean he’d have to hire an Arabic translator as well, and really, do those even exist?

Escape to Hell and Other Stories by Muammar Gaddafi, Blake Publishing, 288 pages, $24.39

If your favorite dictator has written a work of literature and you want to see it reviewed on Wonkette, e-mail greer.mansfield@gmail.com and we can totally figure this out.

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47 comments

  1. nounverb911

    ”he accuses city life of leading to kidney theft and other crimes”
    Like blowing up airliners.

  2. SorosBot

    Ground Control to Major Hasan, your circuit's dead, there's something wrong.
    Can you hear me Major Hasaon?

    (Yay comments are open here now!)

  3. nounverb911

    ”Then again, that would mean he’d have to hire an Arabic translator as well, and really, do those even exist?”
    I hear Hosni Mubarak is available.

  4. ManchuCandidate

    Ghadaffi and another crazy ass insane poet who has/had a harem of lascivious women, Charlie Sheen, should tour together.

    The Shitass bug fuck insane Torpedo of Truth Tour.

  5. Extemporanus

    In other words, Muammar Gaddafi is literally the Thomas Friedman of Libya?

    And if so, when Gaddafi finally kicks the ol' Bedouin tent pole, can we ship Friedman over to Libya to replace him, and then immediately start bombing the whole hot, flat, and cratered hellhole all over again?

    (Peggy Noonan, you're on deck!)

  6. Clancy_Pants

    140 Charachters Bitches:

    A Hurb been disc'd in Bengzi, sld @ HHasans In tvZn Iview Me condKd wi/hm, Cn by > three mil. peeps HH sed HUrb Crd tards and thoZ hoo havnt BcUm Tards, HHsaid nUting bout Dem

    C. Grassley

    1. Jim89048

      I don't have a twitter, so I need to know: do spaces count as a character? You could save a lot of wrds that way!

  7. GuanoFaucet

    Sharron Angle should see if Gaddafi's publisher will put out her book. They already published one batshit crazy author's ramblings, why not another.

    1. Lascauxcaveman

      "Gunga galunga…gunga — gunga galunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consiousness."

  8. pinkocommi

    It is surprising that Gaddafi has not yet tried to start his own religion. But then again, Scientology already exists.

  9. SorosBot

    There hasn't really been a good book written by a dictator since the Commentarii de Bello Gallico and de Bello Civili.

  10. Fare la Volpe

    …It is a tale told by an idiot,
    Full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

    Unfortunately the idiot has a god complex and a tank division to back it up.

  11. V5¹∞ª℠≠½6³√•4°

    One should never miss a chance to take a gander at the lovely "French" first lady, but her crooning puts one in mind of this.

  12. Ancient_Hackery

    Speaking of bizarre, on Amazon.com, new copies are priced at $24.99, but used ones command $73 to $101. Is this turnabout mandated somewhere in his Green Book?

    1. Fare la Volpe

      Jeez, it's like a trabant; it only increases in value the further away it gets from the factory.

  13. DahBoner

    Dear Mr. Gaddafi,

    Help me carry out my last wish.

    With your help; I want to donate to the needy, the poor and motherless baby’s homes.

    Send money now…

  14. SayItWithWookies

    Feuilletons — random opinions and observations about practically anything — that sounds strangely like Donald Rumsfeld's snowflakes.

  15. PublicLuxury

    Why don't you hire him Ken? Unemployment is already unacceptably high. Step up, man. Do your part.

  16. PublicLuxury

    Could it be any worse than Bush's musings? How about Ashcroft's 'Let the Eagle Soar"? Poor Lil Muammar.

  17. natoslug

    Code called from the virtual machine one monitor over. I ignored it, focusing instead on my second bottle of Fieldbrook 2007 sauvignon blanc and Wonkette. Priorities! This job will not last, I thought, if I keep drinking lunch and reading snark blogs. Oh fucking well. Where did I put that plate of mimolette? My pants have been growing tighter. Is it the cheese? Or the alcohol? Maybe it is just sitting around on my ass in front of a computer when I could be walking to the beach and enjoying the overcast day . . .

    Where's my fucking royalty checks!!!!!!!!!1!!!ONE!!!

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