From the Corner of the Oval
I have been on an Obama-era memoir kick. With all of the asinine drama of our current administration, can you blame me?
I grabbed Beck Dorey-Stein's memoir, From the Corner of the Oval, the Tuesday it came out. I loved the bold colors of the cover and really wanted the book version of a comfort blanket. Thank goodness Dorey-Stein's book acted as a bit of a time machine, taking be back to 2012-2016 when Obama was president and I was hopeful for our country.
Beck followed a job lead from Craigslist to become a White House stenographer, granting her the opportunity to be in the Oval Office, Air Force One, and Marine One. While her book describes working at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, it also goes into detail about her dating life in her late twenties, and all of the drama that can follow.
Reading along with her dating life feels like reading your cooler, older sorority sister's journal. As each entry progresses, Beck becomes more and more candid about the snags in her relationship with "Sam", a campaign staffer who can't seem to get a job in the D.C. area. Mixed between doubts about Sam are discussions of her ongoing "secret" relationship with "Jason Wolf", a White House senior staffer who was in a relationship of his own.
As Beck becomes more comfortable in her White House-adjacent job, her love-life becomes derailed. She weaves stories of her romantic endeavors with Jason on work trips to exotic stories with tales of running adjacent to President Obama on hotel treadmills. While her life is not all parties, travel, and Cape Codders, she is able to balance her awe for her job with relatable lessons for the reader.
Beck was told numerous times during her stint as a stenographer to write things down. Not just for her job, but also to document her experience in the crazy D.C. bubble. Her memoir is stronger for this, as it captures you as a reader into her political world. Her stories read like a journal, and you may not learn anything about the core policies of the Obama administration, but you will be entertained and learn a bit more about how loving yourself is more important than loving anyone else.