NAL, an imprint of Penguin USA, has cancelled plans to reissue Sisters, a racy bodice-ripper written by Lynne Cheney, wife of US vice-president Dick Cheney. The reason given for the change of plan was that the book did not represent her best work. However, it is patently obvious that the book’s content would have proved an embarrassment to the vice-president in an election year. Sisters is set in the 19th-century American West, and features vivid tales of whorehouses, attempted rapes, a murder and several lesbian love affairs. Lynne Cheney wrote the novel back in 1981, it was published in Canada, but has been out of print for nearly two decades. Cheney has been active in publishing over the past couple of years. In 2002, she released a much more respectable book, for children, entitled America: A Patriotic Primer, and has also sponsored a literary prize for young people. Sisters is notably absent from her biography of achievements and good works on the White House website. In 2001, she told a New York Times newspaper reporter that she couldn’t even remember the plot of Sisters. However, her husband’s political opponents will be only too happy to remind her and the general public of America. The novel was the subject of a recent satirical performance at the New York Theatre Workshop, with actors reading such passages as: Let us go away together, away from the anger and imperatives of men. There will be only the two of us and we shall linger through long afternoons of sweet retirement. The renewed publicity for the novel places the Cheneys in an even more awkward position in regard to the Bush administration’s stance against gay marriage. They also have an openly lesbian daughter Mary.

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