In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein was just scraping by in DC when a posting on Craigslist landed her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. The ultimate DC outsider, she joined the elite team who accompanied the president wherever he went, recorder and mic in hand. On whirlwind trips across time zones, Beck forged friendships with a tight group of fellow travelers — young men and women who, like her, left their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president. But as she learned the ropes of protocol, Beck became romantically entangled with a consummate DC insider, and suddenly, the political became all too personal. Set against the backdrop of a White House full of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart broken, learning what truly matters, and discovering her voice in the process.
Author: Beck Dorey-Stein | Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
From the Corner of the Oval was fast-paced, well written, and suuuuper juicy. It’s clear that Beck Dorey-Stein is a great writer, and her ability to observe, recall, and retell a story is what all creative nonfiction writers are striving for. Her personal story was not really my favorite, but I absolutely can’t deny that she wrote this book really, really well.
Beck was unemployed and relatively miserable in Washington DC when she responded to a Craigslist job posting for a stenographer. Turns out, the job was with the White House (surprise!). And so she accidentally fell into Air Force One and the entire crazy lifestyle that goes with it.
However, she’s drawn in by the electromagnetic field of a high-ranking senior White House staffer (also f*ckboy). What follows is a raucous affair that spans years, relationships, and so many trips around the globe.
So, juicy for sure. And somewhat reality-turned-reality-television-esque. But … reality television is not really my thing. I don’t quite love watching or reading about people’s train-wreck lives — it stresses me out more than entertains me. So this book was not 100% for me … but it totally might be for you.
Still, I appreciate the way Beck spun her journey from lost, floundering girl without a job to more-grown-up, finding-her-way, owning-mistakes-and-almost-learning-from-them woman at the end of a political era. Her tidbits about competing next to Obama on the treadmill and other inside stories were really interesting and fun to read. And the way she found her second family was, ultimately, beautiful. I’m interested to see what else comes from her pen!
Totally recommend this book if “juicy, raucous affair” is your thing!