By Mystery House, Special for USDR
Donald Trump will be showing up on your nightstand in the near future. The presidential candidate has begun appearing in thrillers and suspense novels as—who else—himself. Until recently, the literary world has had to content itself with comparing Trump to the well-known heroes and anti-heroes of older works. But now Mr. Trump is showing up in the flesh—The Donald Himself—in a role usually reserved for figures of gigantic historical importance. There was never a rush to write John Kerry or John McCain into a suspense novel, but apparently, with Trump, the game has hanged.
The release of The Encryption Game (Mystery House, 2016) this month marks something of a debut for The Donald. Penned by veteran writer Glenn Shepard, the book uses the Syrian Refugee Crisis as a backdrop for a story of global espionage. The author, who has met Trump, places the blond-headed presidential candidate squarely in a scene straight out of the headlines, portraying him as a glad-handing super-icon. It is a blending of Reality TV, politics, and pulp fiction, with The Donald appearing on the steps of a courthouse, larger than life, wearing “a red baseball cap that said, ‘Make America Strong Again’,” and having a “ruddy, Irish-looking complexion” and “steel gray eyes.”
Critics have been seeing Trump-like similarities in various literary characters from the past for quite some time now. In May, columnist Andrew Sullivan, writing in New York magazine, compared Trump to the Buzz Windrip character in It Can’t Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis. Published during the rise of fascism, Lewis’ 1935 novel tells the story of an American politician, a millionaire described as “vulgar,” who’s appeal is purely populist. Trump has also been widely compared to Sheldon Packer, the Republican candidate in the recently released political satire, The Nix, by Nathan Hill. Packer, among other things, is a towering personality who has no love for immigrants.
But having the one and only Donald Trump actually show up in the pages of a novel has remained remote, which is not uncommon. Novelists generally prefer to take a few characteristics from a particular figure and then build a new character from that base. Even the greatest influencer of modern thrillers, Tom Clancy, didn’t insert living people into his fiction. There were likenesses, but like most other popular novelists, the late Clancy usually stayed safely in the realm of fiction.
That genteel line has definitely been crossed. Marvel Comics, in its June release of Spider Gwen Annual #1, introduced a Donald Trump-like character called “Modok.” Modok is little more than just a giant, angry head, one that delivers a long series of bombastic edicts. Still, though, it’s only a head, a caricature.
With the release of The Encryption Game, Trump walks onto the stage without a costume, or any other type of mask. Shepard, the author, gives in only on one point, the Trump name. The bushy-headed, red-baseball-cap-wearing politician is called “Ronald Bogart,” but the effect is to make the whole device even more transparent than it already is. There’s no mistaking this man for a “likeness.” “I couldn’t see writing this book without having Trump in it,” Shepard says. The novel addresses several sticky questions, most notably the problem of terrorist infiltration into groups fleeing war—which is where Mr. Trump comes in. “Without Trump for atmosphere,” Shepard points out, “a lot of the other factors seemed stripped of their impact.”
SOURCE Mystery House