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Ana Marie Cox Is 2006′s Curtis Sittenfeld

nytcox.jpgWhich is to say, the hot (defined as you choose) young D.C.-based novelist on which the New York Times is going to lavish oodles of attention (with the question of whether it’s deserved left for you to decide for yourself). Evidence: just one day after her lackluster review from Janet Maslin, Cox (left) is the subject of a somewhat more glowing David Carr profile in today’s edition…and delivers her own op-ed piece on the Jack Abramoff plea bargain, which is mostly notable for how much Wonkette-ness the Times editorial board drained out of her prose (although she does sneak in an Abscam reference). The op-ed may save her from having to turn in a back-pager for NYTBR, but the Christopher Buckley review of her “brisk, smart, smutty, knowing and very well-written first novel” is coming this Sunday.* Mind you, the analogy isn’t necessarily a complete one; it doesn’t seem likely that Dog Days will follow Prep onto the Top Ten list come December.

But on to the profile! Unlike Maslin, Carr isn’t afraid to directly address the real-life events at the core of the novel, recapping the Washingtonienne scandal, acknowledging Jessica Cutler’s book, and suggesting Cox’s decision to retell that story with her own twists shows she “still thinks there is some rubber left on the tire.” Or, as she puts it, “I thought it was interesting that many believed that I had invented her, and I just wanted to play that out in the book.”

WaPo reporter Richard Leiby has a somewhat less celebratory take, opining that “you really have to be riveted by Ana Marie and Jessica Cutler’s life” to care much about the book. Then again, he’s one of the few mainstream media types Carr and other reporters are willing to acknowledge as “clearly identifiable,” and the portrait isn’t flattering, so maybe he’s got his own agenda. The profile also links the protagonist to the author, which of course wasn’t exactly hard to do, but proposes that the “married love interest, a self-involved political correspondent for one of the weeklies with his own television show, could be any number of people.”

Curious, ain’t ya? FishbowlDC eliminates some obvious wrong guesses, and all I’m going to say on the subject (since I was too drunk when I heard the guy’s name to remember it) is that for a novel filled with references to contemporary media outlets, there’s at least one that’s rather glaring in its absence.

*Although, with all respect to Mr. Buckley, “Capitolette” is not really a good rhyme for “toilet.”

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