Take this test to see if you can spot the red, white, and purple prose of the former governor New Jersey
The Confession. By James E. McGreevey with David France. Regan/HarperCollins, 369 pp., $26.95.
Political analysts have not been kind to this memoir by the New Jersey governor who resigned and told all to Oprah after outing himself as a “gay American.” I believe that too many of them have ignored good parts of the book – the sex scenes.
When it comes to red, white, and purple prose, parts of The Confession rival anything in the work of America’s best-selling romance novelist. Here are a dozen lines, half by James McGreevey and half by Danielle Steel. Can you tell who wrote each? Answers appear at the end of the review.
1) “In spite of myself, I knew I would miss him. Who else would wear red spandex and lime green satin, not to mention the leopard G-string?”
2) “I tried to sit up, but he was lying on top of me, and I couldn’t. ‘Oh, shit, what happened?’ I could hardly get the words out, and wondered if all my ribs were broken.”
3) “But I had to admit as he massaged my shoulders and rubbed my back, it was incredibly relaxing. And after a while, in spite of myself, I sighed, and rolled over on my stomach.”
4) “I stretched out on the couch and placed my legs out over his knees … I then leaned forward and hugged him, and kissed his neck. His response was immediate and loving, just what I’d fantasized about since we first locked eyes.”
5) “I pulled him to the bed and we made love like I’d always dreamed … boastful, passionate, whispering … “
6) “It was an endless, breath-consuming, life-giving kiss.”
7) “We undressed and he kissed me. It was the first time in my life that a kiss meant what it was supposed to mean – it sent me through the roof.”
8) “Our first few times burned so fiercely in my mind I could hardly recall them even as we were still lying together. “
9) “‘I love you … You make me so happy…. I’ve never, you know …’”
10) “’I love you. I don’t want to take advantage of you. I don’t want anything from you. Just you.’”
11) “He greeted me in his briefs. ‘Did anybody see you?’ he asked, closing the door quickly.”
12) “ ‘I’ve been waiting for you forever,’ he whispered back. ‘I didn’t know where you were … but I always knew you were out there somewhere.’”
Don’t lose heart if you couldn’t easily tell the prose of the ex-governor from that of the author of novels such as Passion’s Promise and No Greater Love. Could McGreevey himself tell the difference?
Best line: “One of the cardinal rules of New Jersey politics is, there’s no such thing as a private conversation. Governor [Brendan] Byrne once told me this, as though imparting a philosophical truth from the ages. ‘Somewhere along the line,’ he said, ‘you are going to be taped by someone wearing a wire.’ This is who so many political meetings start with a big bear hug – a New Jersey pat down among friends.” And you thought that only happned on The Sopranos.
Worst line: Apart from the sex scenes? Winner #1: McGreevey tells us that when he was visiting peep shows in Times Square and picking up gay men at Parkway rest stops, “taking Holy Communion every week helped me remain Christ-centered.” What was he like when he wasn’t so “Christ-centered”? Winner #2: The cover of the book says that McGreevey “lives in Plainfield, New Jersey, with his partner, Mark O’Donnell, and daughter Jacqueline. “McGreevey’s ex-wife Dina says in the December 2006 issue of New Jersey Monthly that Jacqueline lives with her in their Springfield home and stays with her father every other weekend. “The inaccuracy has since been removed from the website of the publisher … as well as from Amazon.com and the Barnes & Noble website,” Denise Di Stephan writes.
Editors: Judith Regan and Calvert Morgan
Publication: September 2006
FYI: Perhaps the best short review of The Confession by a close observer of New Jersey politics is columnist Paul Mulshine’s “McGreevey Confesses, But We Do Penance” in the Sept. 21, 2006, Star-Ledger. Mulshine analyzes the claims the ex-governor makes in the memoir about his record and concludes that “the book is proof that McGreevey remains as much in denial about his political life as he once was about his personal life.”
Answers to quiz: Lines from the novels of Danielle Steel: 1, 2, 3, 6, 10, and 12. Lines from The Confession: 4, 5, 7, 8. 9, and 11.
© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.