BOOKS: Flack Attack

A political novel finds the humor in going negative

Political consultants used to tell simple, childlike lies -- that their candidates were honest and hardworking and would get your laundry whiter than white. Now, of course, these flacks hold their client's opponent up before the cameras and assure us that if elected, he or she will cause the rapid onset of the next Ice Age.

With so much organic waste, there must be a pony somewhere, and Stuart Stevens' new novel may be it. Scorched Earth (Atlantic; 276 pages; $21) is a funny, eye-rolling, knee-walking story of an incestuous Senate campaign in one of those nameless Southern states -- somewhere...

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