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Showing posts from October 22, 2017

from Koestler to Weinstein: men behaving "badly"

In 1999, David Cesarani wrote a biography of Arthur Koestler. Arthur Koestler is now a writer who dimly rings a bell, but in the Cold War he was quite the righteous mandarin, just after George Orwell himself. That status of a man who told the truth about Stalinism was precious to a group that moved right in the seventies and eighties, and defended themselves by the retrospective moral condemnation of Stalinism (that was never accompanied by a retrospective moral condemnation of slaveholding, genocide, and colonial oppression as accomplished by the US – for to point at the U.S. was to engage in moral equivalency and other sins). Koestler, according to Cesarini, was not a nice guy. For instance, he was a pouncer – he would paw at women, and some women, including Jill Craigie, said he raped them. Think Bill O’Reilly, except more, what is the word, aggressive. Well, this was too much for the “liberal” NYRB, who set Julian Barnes to the task of defending Koestler from the lowminded and

read Elmore leonard or Leopoldo Sciascia, not the papers, to find out how things work

Trust the great crime writers. It was somewhere in one of Elmore Leonard’s Detroit novels, one set in the early eighties, that one crook complains to the other that now, legit businesses have taken up the Mafia style. Hardly make a dishonest living anymore. In reality, we know that the line between mafias and establishments are thin, thin. I’m on vacation in Montpellier, and I’m rereading Scascia, my fave crime novelist, or political crime novelist, and cross referencing with  Peter Robb’s Midnight in Sicily, which was written when Andreotti was on trial and there was a vivid sense of the overlap between the establishment and the mafias in Italy. I’m also crossreferencing the spate of stories, in the New Yorker…/the-family-that-built-an-empire…  and Esquire, about the Sackler family. Philanthropists, aesthetes, and the peeps responsible for about 17,000 oxycontin overdose deaths per annum. Although, like the mafia, the Sacklers learned early to put their nam