Political Absurdities Played Out in Fiction

To create a good political novel, the writer must have a keen understanding of the conventions, incongruities, ironies and hypocrisies of the business of politics. Bill Gavin, a 30-year veteran of politics and government, has it, along with a sharp sense of humor, honed on satire and parody. The result is "The Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara School for Wayward Girls," a book that will have you smiling and laughing page after page.

Like his first novel, "One Hell of a Candidate," this book has many surprises. There are cross plots, counter plots and plots within plots, but don’t be put off. They are easy to keep straight. To tell you much about them, however, would be to give away the whole story, so I will stick to describing the main characters.

The action takes place during the presidency of Tyler "Ty the Guy" Ferguson, a feckless Democrat who wants nothing more nor less than continuing to preside over the nation. His former speechwriter, Peter Holmes Dickinson, from an old Philadelphia family, has a strong sense of entitlement, few assets, many debts (mostly to his drug dealer), good looks and a desire to bed every woman he meets. He is a facile, versatile writer, as we learn from the list of his clients. He does his best writing (or thinks he does) while listening to Wagner and snorting cocaine.

Donna Hart Lyons, rich widow, former soap opera star and "Godmother of the American Left," is the chairman of LionCo Industries and president of LionHeart Foundation, a spigot of money for her favored left-wing causes. Her current passion is the Ernesto "Che" Guevara School for Wayward Girls that she has built on her Montana ranch. There she has set out to reform a number of teenage prostitutes through clean living, fresh air and day-long tutoring by a faculty of humorless left-wing theoreticians.

Donna’s other passion is her feud with Ezra Tyne, a right-wing radio host who would rather the world did not know about his past. Ezra has the enthusiastic backing of his fan club, Ezra’s Raiders, a collection of knuckle-dragging thugs. Both Ezra and Donna want to take over the moribund American Advance Party to become its presidential candidate — Donna because she is fed up with Democratic President Ty the Guy’s “centrist” policies, and Ezra because he wants to teach Donna a thing or two.

Tim Flaherty is the president of the militant Union of Work-Challenged Employees, a repository of whiners and complainers. In his inaugural address as head of the union, he said: "Just because a worker hates his job or doesn’t show up every day or is always late or shows disrespect for his employer and fights with his colleagues in the workplace is no reason to deny him or her pay raises and more benefits." Some of Tim’s work-challenged members are assigned to the White House staff — with hilarious consequences. Flaherty also has sequential mistresses apparently unknown to his saintly wife, Margaret Mary, who spends her time on good churchly works.

Two of Donna Hart Lyons’s relatives are major characters: her cool and beautiful daughter, Ernestine "Che" Hart, a Georgetown University history professor, and her father, Abe Steinberg, also known as The Deli Lama, a grizzled octogenarian who spends his days in reverie about what he thinks was the Golden Age of Marxism in America.

The lives of these and other characters ultimately come together at the American Advance Party’s convention in Washington. When a group of students from Donna’s school meet up with Ezra’s Raiders events take unexpected and uproarious turns. When you have stopped laughing and have read the book through to its ending of more-or-less happy surprises, pass it along to a liberal friend with a sense of humor — if you can find one.