What’s new, readers? For anyone who’s in the mood to check out a podcast, I’m giving a shout-out to Within The Pages. The two cohosts, who just launched it in June, offer entertaining reviews for young adult and new adult novels in the genres of fantasy and science-fiction. It’s always nice to find new books to occupy yourself in outrageous times like this, when Black Lives Matter murals are being defaced, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp banned local authorities from ordering people to wear masks, the total count of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have surpassed 140,000, a Russian hacking group known as “APT29” and “Cozy Bear” engaged in cyberattacks on coronavirus vaccine researchers, Warner Bros. is delaying Christopher Nolan’s Tenet indefinitely, our very own American Gestapo has been snatching protesters in Portland, Oregon, and whisking them away in unmarked vans, Kanye West made the Oklahoma ballot for the upcoming election, and (pause to catch my breath) our maddening president keeps expelling brain diarrhea (beautiful world wars, cognitive test, his father was tough in a solid way, et cetera).
On that note, let’s cover Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump, clinical psychologist and the president’s sole niece. She’s written a cross between a family memoir and a villain origin story, scathingly and efficiently navigating the dysfunctional dynamic in which the spray-tanned toddler himself and his four siblings were reared. Mary blames her grandfather Fred, a cold and Machiavellian man whom she dubs a “high-functioning sociopath,” for originating said dynamic. Sizable portions of the tell-all focus on his abusive relationship with his eldest son and Mary’s father, Freddy, who defied Fred by pursuing a piloting career instead of preparing to take over his real estate company. But Freddy, having “never developed the armor that might have helped him withstand his father’s mockery and humiliation,” failed to escape the clutches of his family—Donald derided him as a “glorified bus driver”—and suffered a downward spiral of alcoholism until he passed away from a heart attack at age forty-two.
Freddy’s status as “the black sheep of the family” contrasted with the equally poisonous upbringing that Donald received as Fred’s favorite son. He emulated his father’s immorality, cruelty, misogyny, and grandiloquence, while embodying his own penchants for incompetence, pettiness, and vanity. He rose through the corporate ranks with the generous help of his father’s financial and political clout, but he was so inept business-wise (actually, anything-wise) that he dragged the Trump empire through a slew of tax fraud and bankruptcy.
The anecdotes peppered throughout don’t do anything to clean up Donald’s image. When his elder sister Maryanne regaled the family with a story of how fourteen-year-old Freddy dumped a bowl of mashed potatoes over seven-year-old Donald’s head, the latter “listened with his arms tightly crossed and a scowl on his face . . . It upset him, as if he were that seven-year-old boy”; upon seeing Mary in a bathing suit, he remarked, “Holy shit, Mary. You’re stacked”; in retaliation for her and her brother Fritz disputing Fred’s will, Donald nixed their health insurance despite the fact that Fritz’s newborn was gravely sick; when Freddy had his heart attack, Donald, instead of visiting him on his deathbed, took a jaunt to the movie theater; and so forth. Honestly, none of these things are shocking in the slightest. They merely reinforce his standing as an egomaniacal and bigoted bully who is dismantling our nation with his unique brew of immaturity, vulgarity, and stupidity. “If he is afforded a second term, it would be the end of American democracy,” Mary assesses. “Donald is not simply weak, his ego is a fragile thing that must be bolstered every moment because he knows deep down that he is nothing of what he claims to be. He knows he has never been loved.” Good heavens, I can see why he was so anxious to block publication of his niece’s book.
I find it a bit questionable that Mary didn’t release it ahead of the 2016election. If that had happened, I believe we would be living in a world where Hillary Clinton is president. In any case, we now have an acute and bleak account of the baleful impact that our president’s broken family had on his character, and hopefully, it convinces enough Americans who are on the fence politically to vote for Joe Biden in November.
All my love and prayers go to you, readers. Stay healthy and stay strong. #WearADamnMask #BlackLivesMatter
Windup score: 93/100