"The Taming of the Shrew"

Page added 1997
Last updated: May 2003

This book review of Kitty Kelley's Nancy Reagan biography is a short, one Rolling Stone page and accompanied by a rather unflattering caricature of Nancy by Ralph Steadman (I like this picture, but the picture looks more like a Coronation Street floozy rather than the former First Lady). It is RS 605, October 5, 1991.

Nancy Reagan

Ah well. It's written in memo format, as HST is fond of doing and is addressed to Jann Wenner. It opens brilliantly:

There are some things, Jann, that we know in our hearts are Ugly, and this book is one of them. It is old swill in a new bottle, a squalid tale from a squalid time that unfortunately seems to be ours. There is something weird about any calendar that has the Year of the Weasel happening thirteen times in a row.
Anyway, thanx for the review copy of Kelley's book on Nancy. It was good for a few laughs, but not many. And there is meaning in it, for sure, but not much. It is an ugly, mean little package that made me feel cheap for just reading it or even holding the thing in my hands.

HST has his own cliches, words and sentences that he uses over and over again, and this introduction is literally strung together with them.

He carries on with the reaction of his friend, Semmes Luckett (a real person):

This book is a monument to everything low and mean in the human spirit. It is a marketing triumph for that dingbatt might be True is to wallow in the depths of personal and professional degradation." HST then warns "Never send me a book like this again."

As an article, it's total gonzo fluff. There's no real point, and I get the sense that it was written out of pure joy for something, perhaps to use phrases like:

Nancy is a master politician and probably a lot more fun to live and work and travel with than I ever suspected.
...while the president was stoned day and night; and all that time she was talking about remodeling the White House in the style of Dolly Madison or Grandmas Moses, she was acting like Linda Lovelace...
And don't forget that Deep Throat was a box-office hit in the same years that Nancy spent grooming her mongrel stud for the Real Derby, the biggest race of them all...and They Won!!! Twice!!!

It's a fun piece, certainly not too serious, and zips along merrily. I can just picture it being read out loud by HST.