Rex Sorgatz says his new book “has a Wiki-hole quality to it.” The best way to read “The Encyclopedia of Misinformation,” he says, is to open it to a random page, read an article and then see where the footnotes at the bottom of the page tell you to go next.
“I think of it as, ‘As close as you can get to an interactive book,’” Sorgatz said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka.
Topics covered in the humorous-but-painfully-relevant encyclopedia include knockoff handbags, chemtrails and false-flag operations. Sorgatz said half of the entries were written before Donald Trump won the presidency, causing the other half to take a decidedly less playful tone.
“I had a lot of discussions with my editor and my publisher about how ‘Trump’ this should be,” he said. “I erred on the side of not including him very much. I tend to think of him as a ‘Zelig’-like character. He pops up in weird places, especially in footnotes.”
On the new podcast, Sorgatz said he and his editors aren’t the only ones wrestling with the Trump question. “The big question” in the book industry at large, he explained, is how much to acknowledge the president’s relevance to topics that might have once seemed purely historical.
For example, “The Encyclopedia of Misinformation” includes an entry on Huey Long, the notorious populist politician whose rise in 1930s Louisiana inspired the Robert Penn Warren novel “All the King’s Men.” Sorgatz was very aware that Long’s life was eerily similar to Trump’s, but decided to keep the T-word out of the entry.
“I do that a lot in the book, where I don’t say his name,” Sorgatz said. “The reader has to come to the conclusion that this is very relevant to our time, and that history is rhyming.”
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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.