from April, 2004
Every presidential candidate has his or her detractors and admirers. Unfortunately, a considerable number of them write books. Seldom do we find a fair, measured, objective account of the strengths and weaknesses, the outstanding attributes and foibles, of the candidate under scrutiny.
Fortunately, The Ab Ennis Story: An Autobiography, belongs in the latter category. The prose is lucid, simple, and elegant. The facts have been thoroughly researched. The memory of the author, Ab Ennis (1883-1958), is clear, accurate, unsentimental, and unencumbered with detritus and unashamed self-promotion. What we have in this volume is, in a phrase, Pulitzer material.
Many a candidate takes pride in laying claim to immigrant parents. Ennis does them one better: he himself is an immigrant. And not just from the favored countries, such as Greece and Italy. Ennis is a Russian immigrant who, in 1906, escaped that czar-infested country carrying nothing but a full suitcase and his brother’s passport.
Many candidates also boast of their humble beginnings. Ennis, the candidate for president on the Dead Rights ticket, arrived at Ellis Island with only five rubles in his underwear. He was forced to get a job in a Connecticut factory to make ends meet. When they finally did, he hopped a freight to Kansas, then to Idaho, where he homesteaded and began climbing the social ladder; he ended up playing cards with the richest man in the county.
Always a patriot, Ennis volunteered for service in the First World War, withdrawing his application when his wife pointed out to him that she could not bear the thought of becoming a widow, nor could their two-year-old daughter stomach the prospect of being a semi-orphan. He courageously acceded to their demands.
An honest man, Ab Ennis admits that he does not remember the Vietnam War, giving as his plausible reason the fact that he was at that time dead. Regarding the coming presidential debates, he has promised not to make either that war or the fact of his decease an issue. Clearly, this candidate possesses a logical mind.
Nor does he waffle or change his mind without good reason. Though the candidates of the two major parties will almost certainly make much of Ennis’s death, he will almost as certainly point out that he functions as well as the majority of living citizens, a fact that makes him the functional equivalent of a live person. He writes fluent English and composes his own speeches. As proof thereof, he can point to his one-year stint as a columnist of a major e-mag.
(Disclosure: this forthcoming book is in its second draft.)
A book that, when it finally appears, should not be avoided by the American electorate, living or dead, former person or former parrot.