Will Self could write a fantastic stream of consciousness novel from inside Donald Trump’s skull. A book that captures the boundless confidence, the rages, the capriciousness, the seeing something on Fox News he doesn’t like it and having it bubble his blood so much that he just has to yell out.
Having said that, I’m not sure I’d ever read this hypothetical Will Self book. Like most of his other work, I’d probably find it both overblown and yet self-absorbed – so in that it would be the perfect meeting of writer and subject.
There’s a view amongst some that Trump is without self-doubt, and frankly a man totally unreflective would be a terrible subject for a novel. But I don’t think that’s actually the case.
If we look at the way he reacted to the suggestion that Obama had more people at his inauguration. That screamed of a man who knows the truth is there, but doesn’t want to face it and so does everything he can not to. That screamed of a man who has voices in his head – rational and sensible voices – telling him things he doesn’t want to hear.
(If we want to see a man without self-reflection, without self-doubt, look no further than Jeremy Corbyn. When asked, after Labour’s historic defeat at Copeland, whether he’d looked in the mirror and asked if the problem was him, I could fully believe him when he said “No”. He seems to me like a man who has set his course and has zero self-doubt that it’s the correct one, no matter how much evidence stacks up to the contrary.)
Actually it seems that Trump’s character is best summed up as ‘childhood bully’. He swaggers and snarls and pushes people around, but deep down he wants people to like him and can’t understand why they don’t. That more than anything else explains why he has a problem with the media. They say nasty things about him and it hurts because he wants them to like him. So, he’s going to try and push them around until they stop saying nasty things about him, as that’s always the bully’s response.
Now a bully is a fantastic character for a book, but normally as an antagonist rather than the protagonist.
Is it possible to write a book people will want to read with a horrible bully like Donald Trump as the protagonist?
If not, and he has to be the antagonist, who is going to be the person who resists him?
Obviously lots of people are resisting him at the moment, but how do we get a character close enough to Trump, to observe him and make him a major character, while still being against him?
Trump’s cabinet doesn’t seem to have a lot of dissenting voices after all.
And those long-term White House staffers who are probably behind the leaks, aren’t really getting close enough to Trump to share the secrets in his soul.
So how do we do this?