Stephanie Grisham rose from being a junior press wrangler on the Trump campaign in 2016 to assuming top positions in the administration as White House press secretary and communications director, while at the same time acting as First Lady Melania Trump’s communications director and eventually chief of staff.
Part giddy travelogue, part belated apologia, part petty payback, all personal-therapy session, [Grisham's] book is titled I’ll Take Your Questions Now — which might invite the retort: Now you’ll take our questions? ... Chatty, sarcastic and scatological (her first real encounter with Trump is near a toilet), her prose effectively Ex-Laxes the whole weird experience ... If you spent the period from 2016 to 2020 in a 'wake me when it’s over' crouch, this will also be a useful primer on the chaos of the executive branch at that time, told in chapters paced well, like holes on a golf course. Gliding lightly over her own background, flicking in bits of introspection ... 'Are your teeth real?' [Trump] asks her early in their acquaintance. They are, and turns out they’re pretty sharp.
... the sitcom version of Trump’s White House years. Grotesque as it is, I found myself LOLing every few pages ... Part of this book’s perverse appeal lies in Grisham’s basic-ness. The quotations that serve as epigraphs to each chapter read like wall art picked up along with the latest Rae Dunn products at TJ Maxx ... What on Instagram would be aesthetically irksome, in a Trump memoir is weirdly endearing. Grisham is so average, and so comfortable in her averageness, that she becomes a recognizable comedic figure, the chagrinned everywoman. The tale becomes Bridget Jones Goes to Washington, but instead of finding a decent chap to fall for, Grisham gets involved with a creep Trump nicknamed the Music Man for his ability to queue up enough Andrew Lloyd Webber show tunes to soothe the savage president ... At times, Grisham presents herself as a beleaguered professional coping with conniving co-workers, a crazy boss, and his sphinxlike wife. At others, she sounds like someone’s scornful 13-year-old daughter ... while Grisham’s book shows considerably more humility and self-reflection than that of any other Trump administration veteran I’ve read (and I’ve pretty much read them all), it eventually becomes frustrating that she can’t seem to make the connection between the risible character of her boss and the policies he advanced ... For all her soul-searching about why she spent so much time in the spectacular clusterfuck of the Trump White House, she does not ask herself how her own party became so beholden to a man who clearly cares about nothing but himself, a man so vapid he’ll interrupt a professional discussion to ask his press secretary if pantyhose is something only older women wear. I laughed at that story, too, because it so perfectly encapsulates the disastrous triviality of the man Grisham’s party chose to put in office and now can’t seem to exorcise. By all means, she should be questioning why she put up with so much personal abuse, and why she tolerated the abuse of her co-workers. But take it a step further, Steph, and ask yourself why you and your party put the rest of us through that mess, too. Now that’s a serious question.
It’s not easy writing a White House tell-all when it feels like so much about this White House has already been told. The substantive revelations in Grisham’s I’ll Take Your Questions Now are matters of detail, coloring in a picture whose contours have long been clear ... So much of this book feels like a replay of familiar stories, even if told from a slightly different vantage point ... Grisham’s most revelatory moments are not about the principals but about herself — and why she stuck around to witness so much she says she came to revile ... Her often self-serving answers can be at times oblivious and at times painfully self-aware ... She laments how the news media fixated on the first lady’s attire, even as she devotes inordinate time to explaining the 'look book,' a collection of drawings and mock-ups of outfits that Melania might wear for different events, managed by her personal stylist ... There are some memorable descriptions in this book, as well as some real high-school-report-style clunkers ... Given her role as a press secretary, Grisham is surprisingly silent on the president’s attacks on the press.