New York Times reporter-at-large Sarah Lyall was granted the full back page of Sunday’s Arts & Leisure section to suck up to liberal voting activist and sore-loser Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Lyall has pivoted from mocking UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to commiserating with U.S. Democrats when they feared a replay of 2016, and finally to Abrams worship.
The enormous photo of Abrams looking thoughtfully into the middle distance suited the embarrassingly gushing text from Lyall, who didn’t deign to commit any journalism in this soft feature of a hard-edged liberal activist who is infamous for hurling unsubstantiated allegations of voter suppression after her 2018 Georgia loss: “A Star Multitasker’s Latest Chapter.” The underlying article, on Abram’s newest novel, is just as hard-hitting as the headline implies:
Stacey Abrams published her first book — “Rules of Engagement,” a romance novel about a brilliant undercover agent and her smoking-hot colleague — while a student at Yale Law School. Eager to keep her worlds separate, she used the nom de plume Selena Montgomery, a homage to the “Bewitched” actress Elizabeth Montgomery.
Abrams went on to write seven more Selena Montgomery books (one of which, “Never Tell,” is in development with CBS), as well as two nonfiction works under her own name, while pursuing her day jobs as a tax lawyer, business owner, state lawmaker, candidate for governor and voting-rights advocate, to name a few. It is hard to imagine that anyone who followed the 2020 election does not know who Stacey Abrams is.
But the Times is going to once again remind you:
And so for her latest book, “While Justice Sleeps,” a legal thriller about a Supreme Court justice whose descent into a coma plunges the court, and the country, into turmoil, Abrams, 47, has used her own name on a novel for the first time. It as if the disparate parts of her life — the public-policy part, the nerdy, abstruse-topic part and the popular-culture-consuming part — are finally coalescing.
Abrams is praised by Lyall for her television watching, her recall of specific Star Trek episodes, and her book club reading efficiency:
….[Her family] are also avid consumers of literature, with a family-only book club that meets monthly, give or take.
During the interview, it emerged that Abrams had already read the assigned book — “Ring Shout,” by P. Djèlí Clark — for the next meeting, which was scheduled for a month later….
That is typical of Stacey, her brother Richard said. Like a normal person, he had put off the assignment until the last minute. “The rest of us try to figure out how we can postpone the book club until we finish the book,” he said. “But there’s nothing spur of the moment about Stacey. She has a plan for everything.”
Blech! Lyall let her Doubleday editor praise Abrams:
“You have tempered expectations with a high-profile person. You never know what you will see on the page,” [Jason] Kaufman said in a phone interview. “But when I first started reading, it became clear that she is as much a writer as anyone I have ever worked with.”
He particularly admired Abrams’s commitment to some of the more tedious aspects of the editing process, even during the busy autumn of 2020, when she was working round the clock with Fair Fight, the voting-rights organization she founded after losing the Georgia gubernatorial race in 2018.
Abrams can even pay attention to editing! Is there anything Abrams can’t do?
“It was amazing how she was able to dedicate so much precise attention to plot points and to editing leading up the election last fall,” Kaufman said. “The book is complex with a capital C, and you don’t always find that in commercial fiction. Stacey had mastered each of the elements — she could talk in detail about chess and politics and biotech companies and what goes on in the judicial system.”