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Malanowski, Jamie 1953–

Malanowski, Jamie 1953–

PERSONAL:

Born June 15, 1953, in Baltimore, MD; son of Clemens S. (a machinist) and Irene Helen (a homemaker) Malanowski; married Virginia M. Jackson (a teacher), May 24, 1975; children: Molly, Cara. Education: La Salle College, B.A., 1975; University of Pennsylvania, M.A., 1977.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Briarcliff, NY. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Spy, New York, NY, national editor, 1986-93; Playboy, managing editor, 2004—. Has held editing positions at Time and Esquire.

WRITINGS:

(With Susan Morrison) Spy High, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1991.

Mr. Stupid Goes to Washington (novel), Birch Lane Press (New York, NY), 1992.

(With Lisa Birnbach and Kurt Andersen) Loose Lips: Real Words, Real People, Real Funny, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.

The Coup (novel), Doubleday (New York, NY), 2007.

Author of the play This Happy, Happy Land, 1993; coauthor, with Martyn Burke, of HBO movie Pentagon Wars; contributor to newspapers and magazines, including New Yorker, New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Washington Monthly. Work anthologized in Spy: The Funny Years; Killed: Great Journalism Too Hot to Print; Mirth of a Nation, Volume II: The Best Contemporary Humor; The Playboy Book of True Crime; and The Fun Never Stops! An Anthology of Comic Art 1991-2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Journalist Jamie Malanowski, who was part of the original staff of Spy and is managing editor of Playboy, has earned favorable reviews for two satirical novels about American politics. In Mr. Stupid Goes to Washington, Malanowski creates a central character based on Dan Quayle, who was vice president under George H.W. Bush. During his term in office, Quayle was widely ridiculed for remarks and that demonstrated ignorance and stupidity—most infamously during his attendance at an elementary school spelling bee, when he insisted that a student had spelled "potato" wrong by not adding an "e" to the end of the word. Though Malanowski noted that his book is fiction and any resemblances to actual persons is coincidental, readers recognized Quayle in every detail of the novel's vice president character, Brent Bibby. Indeed, in the view of Nation writer Douglas McGarth, Bibby is so closely modeled on Quayle that the novel actually disappoints in terms of character development. "In fictionalizing Quayle," McGarth observed, "Malanowski does not reimagine him…. It seems to be that the challenge for a novelist dealing with Quayle is to show us the sides he has striven to keep hidden from the public. But the insight we are given into Brent Bibby is not deeper than the one we already have into Dan Quayle: Each is a lucky and cheerful dunce." Though McGarth acknowledged that Mr. Stupid Goes to Washington has some truly funny moments, the critic expressed disappointment that the novel ultimately doesn't have much to say. A Publishers Weekly reviewer, however, felt that the novel veers from the "blindingly funny" to the "rompingly absurd," concluding that this "delightful election-year broadside is as accurate as it is preposterous."

A vice president again takes center stage in The Coup. In this novel, Godwin Pope is a wealthy schemer who dreams of running the country but settles for the number-two slot after sleazy Louisiana politician Jack Mahone defeats him in the primaries. But Mahone proves an inept president, and Pope hatches a plan to use a sex scandal to impeach him. Ana Marie Cox, writing in New York Observer, enjoyed Malanowski's skill at exposing the ugly comic truths about Washington insiders: "that we're impressed by proximity to power, that in any given social situation, we confuse acting ‘cool’ with acting like we wish we could have acted when we were young." Noting that the novel presents a "knowing dissection of the media-politics nexus," Washington Post Book World contributor Louis Bayard nevertheless found a "curiously ancien régime quality to this story, with its Clintonesque president and its notion that vice presidents need to seize the West Wing to take over the country." Entertainment Weekly writer Daniel Fierman made a similar point, observing that the book's humor feels relatively slight "in the current climate of deadly serious policy disasters."

Malanowski told CA: "I have always written well, and from little up, I could express myself through writing when I could not otherwise make my thoughts or feelings known. I enjoy writing. Any day that I write is a good day.

"I have a skewed view of things. Some people call it a cynical view, but I believe myself to be an angry or disappointed romantic, someone who would like to believe in others but who is consistently disappointed in the hypocrisy of others. That is especially true in politics. This is not so useful a view to have when regarding, say, domestic arrangements, which perhaps accounts for my inability to write well about things in the private sphere.

"The surprising thing is discovering that there are people out there who think as you do. It is also the most delightful thing."

When asked the question "Which of your books is your favorite and why?" Malanowski answered, "The Coup, for sure. It is the best written and the most sophisticated.

"My hopes for the effects of my books range from the expectation that they will have no effect, to the expectation that they will transform my life entirely. I am happy to learn that they amuse most of the people who read them."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, July, 1992, Gilbert Taylor, review of Mr. Stupid Goes to Washington, p. 1918.

Entertainment Weekly, September 22, 1995, review of Loose Lips: Real Words, Real People, Real Funny, p. 74; July 20, 2007, Daniel Fierman, review of The Coup, p. 78.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2007, review of The Coup.

Library Journal, August, 1992, Barbara Conaty, review of Mr. Stupid Goes to Washington, p. 150.

Nation, November 9, 1992, Douglas McGarth, review of Mr. Stupid Goes to Washington, p. 547.

New York Observer, July 10, 2007, Ana Marie Cox, "A Romp through the DC Underbrush."

People, October 23, 1995, Alex Tresniowski, review of Loose Lips, p. 30.

Publishers Weekly, July 6, 1992, review of Mr. Stupid Goes to Washington, p. 37; May 21, 2007, review of The Coup, p. 32.

Washington Post Book World, July 31, 2007, Louis Bayard, "A Tang to the Warm Spit," p. 8.

ONLINE

Big Head DC,http://www.bigheaddc.com/ (January 10, 2008), "A ‘Coup’ for Men Who Fail to Think, but Should."

Jaime Malanowski Home Page,http://www.jamiemalanowski.com (January 10, 2008).

Secret Dead Blog,http://secretdead.blogspot.com/ (January 10, 2008), Duane Swierczynski, interview with Jamie Malanowski.

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