Autobiography attracting the curious

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

How many 10-year-olds enjoy reading Dean Koontz novels? Victoria Slocum is one.

Don’t worry – she doesn’t check out the author’s usual offerings of mystery and horror. &uot;I love his book, ‘Paper Doorway,’&uot; she said, referring to Koontz’s all-ages poetry work. &uot;But now there’s only one book that I want to read.&uot;

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She’s talking about &uot;My Life,&uot; the Bill Clinton autobiography that arrived in bookstores and the Suffolk Wal-Mart on Tuesday morning. Victoria’s mother Mary was one of the first to pick up a copy.

&uot;I thought it would be kind of interesting to see what he had to say,&uot; Mary said. &uot;I wanted to hear his side of things like his childhood; he says it was pretty tough.&uot; The book details Clinton’s upbringing as a child in Hope, Ark., learning of the relationship between his mother and abusive stepfather. We read of Clinton’s first attraction to the determined Hilary Rodham, his political beginnings of working as an intern under Senator William Fulbright, his protests of the Vietnam War, his attending of Yale Law School, and his return to Arkansas to kick off his own political career.

Clinton discusses his final meeting with Yitzhak Rabin, his debates with George Bush Sr. and Bob Dole, his talks with Newt Gingrich, and, for the first time, how difficult it was to run the country while under fire from independent council Kenneth Starr during the Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky scandals.

&uot;I think the whole thing with Starr was a conspiracy,&uot; Mary said. &uot;If we cared as much about what’s going on in Iraq as we did about Clinton’s bedroom, we’d be some informed people. I think all that tainted his leaving office, and affected Al Gore when he ran for president.

&uot;I do think that if Clinton ran again, he’d win,&uot; she said. &uot;I hope he’ll be vindicated by this book. I think people should put themselves in his position – what would they do if they had someone as relentless as Starr after them.&uot;

Still, she’s going to go through the book herself before Victoria gets her shot. &uot;She’ll tell me not to read the chapters that are bad!&uot; Victoria said. &uot;All I know about Clinton is that he was president, and I want to know more.&uot;

So does Wal-Mart assistant manager Teresa Richardson. &uot;I saw Clinton on ’60 Minutes’ last weekend, and he talked about Iraq, and what he would do differently than (current President) Bush,&uot; Richardson said. &uot;It made me very interested in the book. I’m curious about his life from before he was president until now.&uot;