Mike Gold: Alternative Facts


A lot of people have been bitching and moaning about our latest president. Some think he’s an impulsive idiot. Others, a dangerous megalomaniacal narcissist with a remarkably selective and astonishingly petty memory. Still others find him a dangerous man who is likely to destroy the American Dream and, quite possibly, America.

Even though I believe all of that may be true, I have this to say about Donald J. Trump: he has gotten Americans to pick up and read a book or two. And that includes graphic novels.

It has been well-reported that, after he reamed out Congressman John Lewis by falsely accusing him of not helping “his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart, not to mention crime infested,” sales of Congressman Lewis’s autobiographical three-book graphic novel series March went through the roof. Amazon actually sold out, something I thought was nigh onto impossible.

A week later – and the man’s only been in office for 20 days, total – his anointed spokesliar Kellyanne Conway said, in response to Trump’s claim that three to five million people attended his inauguration, that media reports of at best one million were lies and they (Team Trump) had the “alternate facts.”

Alternative facts, you say?

Two things happened almost immediately. First, people learned they could be completely frightened yet laugh hysterically at the same time. Second, they ran out (to their computers, smartphones, and cars) and purchased copies of George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984.

For those who have yet to indulge in this science fiction classic – and, really, you should – 1984 is the novel that gave us such phrases and philosophies as “war is peace,” “freedom is slavery,” “ignorance is strength,” “it’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words,” and “if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

That last one is my favorite.

According to Publishers’ Weekly, “Print sales of the Signet Classics edition of 1984 for the week ended January 29 were almost 26,000 copies at outlets that report to NPD BookScan, making it the biggest selling book in the week. Sales the previous week were about 4,500 copies. The book was also #1 on the iBooks bestseller list… ‘In one week, Signet Classics has reprinted 500,000 copies of 1984,’ Signet v-p and executive publicity director Craig Burke said. ‘That’s more than we sell in a typical year.’”

Previously, the number one best-seller was… wait for it… March.

To name but those two books, all this massive sales growth is due to the statements of Donald J. Trump and his sundry lackeys. Trump is motivating people to read.

That’s amazing, and that’s wonderful. Given the reported choice of material, this phenomenon is likely to bite Trump in his considerable ass, which, of course, is likely to give him quite a headache.

The phrase “may you live in interesting times,” falsely designated as an ancient Chinese curse, remains quite a threat nonetheless. And, clearly, we live in interesting times.

I have one question, though: what books should I read in response to Trump’s disenfranchising Mexico and Australia?