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Petaluma author parodies President Trump in bedtime story format

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IF YOU GO

Author appearances by David Hightower:

5-6:30 p.m. Jan. 23 — Copperfield’s Books, Calistoga (panel discussion)

1-3 p.m. Feb 8 — Copperfield’s Books, Healdsburg

Noon-3 p.m. Feb. 15 — Community Market in Sebastopol

Noon-2 p.m. Feb. 22 — Copperfield’s Books, Sebastopol

1-30-3:30 p.m. March 22— Copperfield’s Books, Santa Rosa

Information: copperfieldsbooks.com

It seems no one is neutral on the subject of President Donald J. Trump. Supporters cheer and opponents jeer, and almost invariably, the passions lean to one extreme or the other.

First-time author David Hightower had no trouble choosing his side. The tensions he has experienced during the current presidency finally drove him to found his own company, Fed Up Publishing, and put out a book titled “The Sun Also Sets: A Seussical Indictment.”

The name of the tome may sound somewhat literary, but the cover illustration is unambiguous. It shows Trump caged in a circus wagon with bars.

“I started writing verses in rhyme about my issues with all his shortcomings. I wrote 80 verses in two days,” Hightower said.

It’s no surprise that Hightower, 38, a stay-at-home dad to two sons ages 3 and 5, found himself falling into a Dr. Seuss cadence as he pounded out his political poetry.

“I have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours reading Dr. Seuss to my boys,” he said. “And I wanted my book to be silly, yet cutting and direct.”

The cutting edge of Hightower’s writing in this book tends to be more like a machete than a scalpel. The overall effect is a explosion of frustration, presented in low comedy terms with a bit of childishness and crass humor thrown in for fun.

A sample: “The truth of the matter/Which everyone knows/Your frauds and your lies/Will soon be exposed.”

The drawing that goes with the verse shows Trump from behind in the foreground, clad in a raincoat and nothing else, flashing several shocked bystanders in the background.

In seeking an illustrator, Hightower envisioned a style that blended political cartooning with typical pictures from a children’s book. After interviewing a dozen different artists, he settled on Darren Nelson of Woodacre in Marin County.

“We connected instantly,” Hightower recalled. “We have very similar minds, and we’re alike in our approach to art and life, and our political viewpoint.”

Hightower published the book last July. By August, it was a top-selling title at Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma. At this point, “The Sun Also Sets” has sold 800 copies, and Hightower has given away another several hundred to promote the project. It’s found footing in the Bay Area and is in 70 bookstores there. “We’re trying to get national distribution for it,” he added.

With a book as politically blunt as this, the author was bound to get angry blowback, even in the relatively liberal haven of Northern California.

“I nearly got my ass kicked by two big guys in gun T-shirts,” Hightower said. “I was in a bar, showing the book to a friend and they saw a picture of Trump getting the boot.”

The author, a former day trader whose wife works in the health care industry, managed to talk his way out the touchy situation by explaining he treasured his First Amendment rights just as they revered their Second Amendment rights.

Hightower didn’t precisely plan his current project in advance, but he had already left his previous career behind.

“As a day trader for seven years in the East Bay, I was doing well financially but not mentally. I didn’t get fulfilment of out making money, so I got out,” he said.

The idea for his new publishing and writing career came later, as he realized his boys were growing up fast and headed for school, and it was time to think about the next thing he wanted to do.

“I’d never had any vision of writing a book,” he said. “I didn’t plan it out. It kind of fell into place. I thought there are a lot of disillusioned people out there who might need a laugh.”

You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @danarts.

IF YOU GO

Author appearances by David Hightower:

5-6:30 p.m. Jan. 23 — Copperfield’s Books, Calistoga (panel discussion)

1-3 p.m. Feb 8 — Copperfield’s Books, Healdsburg

Noon-3 p.m. Feb. 15 — Community Market in Sebastopol

Noon-2 p.m. Feb. 22 — Copperfield’s Books, Sebastopol

1-30-3:30 p.m. March 22— Copperfield’s Books, Santa Rosa

Information: copperfieldsbooks.com

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