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Lynne Cheney novel churns controversy in Senate race

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Lynne Cheney is deflecting talk of the sexual content in her novel "Sisters," a 25-year-old book that resurfaced in a campaign Friday and is stirring up controversy.

The novel, featuring a lesbian love affair, was brought up Friday amid a contentious Senate race in Virginia. Soon a Democratic committee and Cheney herself -- in an interview on CNN -- were weighing in.

Cheney, the wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, convinced the publisher not to reissue the book in 2004 during the presidential election. Her attorney told the media at the time that Cheney "did not think the book was her best work." (Watch Lynne Cheney discuss the controversy with Wolf Blitzer -- 10:18 Video)

Cheney's biography on the White House Web site says she is the author or co-author of nine books, and it lists six of them, but not "Sisters."

Readers will have a hard time judging the content of the book for themselves. The few copies available are selling for hundreds of dollars each.

On Sunday, four used copies of "Sisters" were being sold, ranging from $695.95 for one in "acceptable" condition to $999 for a copy in "collectible -- good" condition. Ebay had two copies available, with requested opening bids of $200 and $500., on Sunday afternoon, found the cheapest copies available barely under $300.

Some of these prices were set before the latest blow-up over the work of fiction. It was not immediately clear what impact the last few days have had.

Reviews have long described the book as "racy" and "steamy." Excerpts highlight a love story between two women and talk of sharing a bed.

"Sisters," which has triggered controversies in the past, returned to the news after Sen. George Allen, a Republican from Virginia, pulled up sexual passages that his Democratic challenger, Jim Webb, had included in his novels.

In a statement and list sent to the Drudge Report Web site, Allen's campaign accused Webb, a former Navy secretary of "demeaning women" and "dehumanizing women, men and even children" through his fiction writings.

Webb responded that it was a "smear" tactic and "desperate," and that in his books he had described things he witnessed in horrible wartime situations. (Full story)

Democrats pointed to a quote from Vietnam War veteran Sen. John McCain, one of the highest profile senators and a Republican, praising the book "Lost Soldiers" -- the first book the Allen campaign had quoted.

Speaking to Washington Post radio, Webb said, "I mean we can go and read Lynne Cheney's lesbian love scenes if you want to, you know, get graphic on stuff."

Cheney then told CNN, "Jim Webb is full of baloney. I have never written anything sexually explicit."

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent out a news release listing sexual passages in books by Cheney and other GOP conservatives, including Dick Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The DSCC said Cheney's books featured brothels and attempted rape.

Though asked by CNN, Cheney did not discuss the imagery included in "Sisters."

Cheney is promoting a new book she's written for children.

CNN's Joshua Levs contributed to this report.

An old novel by Lynne Cheney, wife of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, is stirring new controversy.



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