Steve Israel: The F. Scott Fitzgerald of Congress?
Posted at 5 a.m. on June 9, 2014
The gentleman from West Egg? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo.)
The hat rack of Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., is quite full these days.
Obviously, he represents the constituents of New York’s 3rd District. And then there is his side gig running the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. But lately, he’s wearing another hat: novelist.
“I’m publishing my first novel in January,” he said in a recent interview.
“I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Since I knew I couldn’t play centerfield for the Mets, which was my childhood dream, and since I couldn’t get a book published, I became a member of Congress.”
“And now I’m publishing this book,” he added. “It’s a satire, a political satire.”
It is also a bit of a Roman à clef, as the protagonist is a Jewish, Mets-loving inhabitant of Long Island.
“The Global War on Morris,” is about “a pharmaceutical salesman living and working in western Long Island who loves the Mets, loves his wife Rona, and loves things just the way they are,” according to the Simon & Schuster website.
Until Morris stumbles into trouble:
But one day Morris is seduced by a lonely, lovesick receptionist at one of the doctors’ offices along his sales route, and in a moment of weakness charges a non-business expense to his company credit card. No big deal, you might think. Easy mistake. But the government’s top-secret surveillance program, anchored by a giant, complex supercomputer known as NICK, thinks differently. Eventually NICK begins to thread together the largely disparate and tenuously connected strands of Morris’s life — his friends, family, friends’ friends, his traffic violations, his daughter’s political leanings, his wife’s new patients, and even his failed romantic endeavors — and Morris becomes the US government’s new public enemy number one.
Israel said the story has its roots in the George W. Bush administration.
“I would sit in these meetings with President Bush during the whole global war on terror and hear this stuff that I said, ‘My constituents would never believe me if I reported this in speech,’ ” Israel explained.
“Most of it was written on this thing,” Israel said, waving around his iPhone.
The seven-term congressman has a literary background. A military history fanatic, he published a collection of military speeches in 2007 in a book called “Charge! History’s Greatest Military Speeches.”
And, like Morris, Israel lives in western Long Island — a region that was once home to F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and served as the setting of “The Great Gatsby.”
“I just love representing a district that has that heritage,” he said.
The expected release date is Jan. 5, just two days after the 114th Congress is sworn in.
“That’s been my true labor of love,” he professed.