Robert Gibbs a High School Joker

Novelist Ace Atkins recalls Gibbs in Auburn, Ala.

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By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

He counts Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich as readers, but novelist Ace Atkins's ties to a real-life pol go back to his Auburn, Ala., high school days with Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs. Tenth-grade English class, to be precise. "I don't think you could talk to Bob two seconds without him cracking a joke," Atkins says. "Even as a teenager, he had a very wry wit." Atkins recalls how they made fun of others in class. "He sat right in front of me in 10th-grade English, and getting through someone's serious poetry reading without laughing was always tough." A crime writer—his new book is titled Devil's Garden Atkins says he never considered crafting a character after Gibbs. Until last week, that is, when the spokesman lowered the boom on two reporters who let their cellular phones ring during his daily briefing. "I thought he'd make a pretty good reform sheriff," says Atkins.

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