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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Al Franken: Giant of the Senate

At Book Expo this year, I only attended one panel, and that was with Mark Manson and Al Franken in conversation. It was outstanding. Al Franken was advertising his new memoir, but it was one of the most enjoyable panels I have ever been to. Franken is clearly a Senator who is here to serve the people of Minnesota, that comes through loud and clear. His memoir, Giant of the Senate, only makes that more clear. 

If you are of a certain age, you will know Al Franken as a satirist and beloved writer of Saturday Night Live. You may also remember how confused you felt when he announced his entry into politics, particularly if you are not a Minnesotan. If you are younger, you may only know him as the Democratic Senator from Minnesota. Either way, you would be right. 

Al Franken started his career very early as a comedian and has written several satirical books on politics, almost exclusively excoriating the right. One thing he hates more than anything is lying, so you can imagine how much he loves our current POTUS. In this memoir (which contains a fair share of satirical jokes), he covers his early years (albeit briefly), including those on SNL, and then he's into his entry into politics. His friend and senator, the beloved Paul Wellstone, was killed in a plane accident and his successor was, shall we say, a Republican. Having never considered politics before, Franken starts to realize that he could do the job, and he starts slowly mounting his campaign and building his political knowledge early. This memoir covers his campaign, his contentious election, and his time up to present in the US Senate. 

I was worried that at almost 400 pages that I might not get through the book, as I have an infant and it seemed like a daunting task. Have no fear -- this book was so on point, entertaining and funny, that I read it in no time. I found myself giggling out loud more than enough times, and my husband often looked at me quizzically until I read him what I was amused by. The problem with that is that the jokes are smart and require background knowledge, so I often had to back up and read him at least the previous paragraph. Franken is not funny in a one-liner way; he is incredibly intelligent and writes his jokes for those who are willing to hold on with their left and and catch the joke with their right. That's what was so great about this book. It was informative and incredibly amusing. It's hard to find that in a memoir with a tinge of satire. 

Franken also doesn't mince words in his work. He is no fan of certain coworkers (one rhymes with Ned Kruz), and he is strait up with his readers. When I saw him speak at Book Expo, I was quite impressed at his dedication to representing his constituents. Franken is a man of his word, and in our current political climate, where I find some representatives are less concerned with listening to those they represent and more concerned with revenge on the previous administration, he is the one to watch. One thing that has flabbergasted me of late is how unwilling representatives are to recognize that they are voted in by their constituents and their responsibility is to serve them; you don't have a guaranteed job just because you are a politician. Franken not only understands that, he lives by the creed. I wish he were my representative, too. 

I often donate books that I finish, but this one will be staying on my shelf. 

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