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Showing posts from October 26, 2003
Bollettino I heard John Kerry on NPR a couple of days ago. It was a completely sad experience. Kerry was asked what he would do, if he was president, about Iraq. His answer was that he would go to the U.N. Now, Kerry is a smart man. He is an experienced man. His committee investigations of B.C.C.I in the 90s, and of the Central American conflicts in the 80s, were smart and well done, although limited. But to answer with the favored gesture of the Dembots � to promote process as an answer in itself � is just the kind of thing that will reelect Bush. The only thing you get, when the answer is process, is processed cheese. How should he have answered? This is what I would have said: I�m not president right now, and right now is a crucial time in Iraq. So let�s talk about what President Bush should do to remove Iraq as an issue next year. Three things come to mind immediately 1. End the p.r. aspect of the war. In Vietnam, the army would take a hill simply to have it reporte
Bollettino Are we thinking enough about coitus interruptus? You there, in the back. I�m talking to you. The question is prompted by an article in The Journal of Interdisciplinary History entitled, "They prefer withdrawal". If this sounds like a distant echo of Bartleby�s cry (I prefer not to) � well, surely some scholar somewhere is even now busily connecting Bartleby�s angst to forms of birth control you can invent in your very own home. Here�s the intro graf: Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, contemporary advocates of "modern" methods of birth control denigrated withdrawal as ineffective, unpleasant, and even physically and psychologically harmful. Yet, the available evidence on birth control in Britain (and elsewhere) has consistently suggested that withdrawal continued to be the most widely used method of family limitation even into the interwar decades, after more than a half-century of sharply falling national fertility. The use
We received a letter this morning from a p.r. guy at one of the big publishing houses. We'd squabbled with the guy over the galley of a book we are supposed to be reviewing. The squabble is over. However, he included a little jab in his message, about how he doubted, at one point, that we were a "legitimate reviewer." How we wish that was true! Legitimate book reviewer? We would rather be accused of public wanking. But that is unfair. With public wanking, at least, there are some benefits, some feedback. Friends that you can make in prison. Be that as it may -- we wonder about the current craze for reviewing reviewers. Most book reviews suffer from tediousness more than � horrid, preppy word � snarkiness. Yet here comes James Atlas, doing a NYT magazine piece on Dale Peck solely because Peck has written few pans in the TNR slinging insults at Rick Moody and David Foster Wallace. As if this was new and noteworthy.. Well, since I am a professional book reviewe
Bollettino We recommend New Yorker�s film issue. The New Yorker has shook off, mostly, the baleful influence of Pauline Kael � thank God � P.K.�s style and p.o.v. having the effect, on us, that mold has on a immune deficiency shut-in -- and has a real writer on films in Anthony Lane. We resisted Lane at first � what, another English critic at another major magazine? Wasn�t one James Wood enough? But luckily, Lane is a much better writer than Wood, and not so given to his own agenda � as Wood is given to judging everything under the viewpoint that Saul Bellow is the central novelist of our time � that he can�t lapse, happily, into spontaneous likes and dislikes. Too much eclecticism in a critic is bad � it shows a lack of that conscious impressionability that we presume must accompany the experience of however many years� worth of art. To remain an ing�nue after seeing five, ten years of films, you have to be as brainless as Rex Reed. However, too little willingness to depart from