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Cleaver

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British journalist Harold Cleaver — egotist, incurable philanderer, unapologetic gourmand — scores a career high by humiliating the U.S. president in a televised interview. But his son has just published a scene-stealing roman à clef. Retreating to an isolated cabin in the Alps without TV or cell-phone reception, Cleaver engages his son, the president, and a doll (yes, a doll) named Olga in intense, imaginary debates. It’s much saner than it sounds, as Tim Parks draws a lively critique of modern media out of Cleaver’s soul-searching rants and a surprisingly affectionate portrait of self-reflection and forgiveness in Cleaver. A-

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