Joe Eszterhas' new book, American Rhapsody, ends with a chapter titled "Willard Comes Clean," in which Bill Clinton's penis speaks and, God help us, raps. It is, by far, the most compelling chapter in a book otherwise full of so-what anecdotes (Farrah Fawcett once took a dump on a Hollywood producer's lawn while New Line head of production Mike DeLuca was out getting a blow job on the balcony), ho-hum revelations (Chinatown producer Robert Evans' description of Sharon Stone as "a lying dumb cunt who's had all the brains in her head fucked out"), and far-flung lunacy (Bill and Monica's "oral-anal" contact, as referenced in Ken Starr's report). The book is indeed the summer's must-read: You must read it to believe what absolute insane garbage it really is. And you thought Showgirls was bad.
By the time you get to the chapter about Clinton's talking pecker (called Willard because it's longer than Willie, or so says Gennifer Flowers), you'll merely shrug, then collapse into a mass of giggles--as Jon Stewart did last week on The Daily Show, when the author read the final two paragraphs of his book, in which Willard delivers his one-eyed monologue. ("I am his banana peel, his smoking gun, his Mannlicher Carcano rifle..." and so forth.) Stewart looked as though he'd wet his pants, and Eszterhas, who wrote the book during a three-year period spent watching ImpeachTV at his Maui home while poring over The Starr Report a dozen times, took it as a compliment. He was quite pleased, a smirk poking out of his bushy beard.
And maybe he ought to be. Maybe this book--part confessional, part obsessional (not a real word, which never stopped Joe)--is one 432-page punch line to the national joke known as Bill Clinton. Maybe it's a big put-on, a nyuk-nyuk rant-and-rave for which Alfred A. Knopf paid a hefty hunk of change to publish alongside the works of John Updike and Toni Morrison--neither of whom ever hinted, wink-wink, that Bill Clinton slept with Sharon Stone and Barbra Streisand. How can you take seriously a book in which Sasquatch insists Stone rubbed herself to climax on his corpulent flesh? Even Stone has insisted she was unaware Joe could write comedy.
The 56-year-old, Hungarian-born Eszterhas, talking from a hotel room in Chicago, likes to call the book a "mutant"--meaning, it's neither fact nor fiction, neither memoir nor expos*. At most, it's a mishmash of previously published "truths" and whispered rumors--say, Hunter S. Thompson dishing dirt with Matt Drudge over Thai stick and tequila, or Ken Starr penning porno for Henry Miller freaks. American Rhapsody bounces from reflections of days gone by ("We were the free-speech generation of the sixties, the generation of free love and communal sex, of one-night stands and no guilt, of bedroom experimentation..." blahblahblah) to bitchy backstabs about Hollywood whores and Washington weenies. Pick it up, and you can't put it down. That, or you'll hurl it against the wall just to see whether it sticks.
"It's an outrageous, in-your-face, middle-finger-extended kind of book, especially in a politically correct world that I think in some ways is Stalinist in its politically correctness," Eszterhas says. "It's a full-scale, full-frontal assault, and I knew there would be people who would love it and there would be people who would hate it, and that seems to be what's happening."