held forth the other day on A.J. Liebling, one of my favorite writers:
I suppose I should blush for not reading him sooner, since he’s one of those names journalists throw around to prove that the scribbler’s craft can produce true artists. He wrote for the New Yorker in the 30s, 40s and 50s, and was one of those chroniclers of the demi-monde of gyms and bars. Or so the reputation has it. Well, I’ve been dipping through Just Enough Liebling,
and I don’t get it. I just don’t. Part of the problem is that he writes long detailed pieces about food, and food writing bores me. (Unless I am the one doing the writing.) The attention to gustatory detail can seem unseemly, after a while. All that talk of sauces and obscure drizzles and precious pates and brash herbs – please. It’s just dinner. There’s a difference between describing the charms of one’s first love and going on and on about the interesting pattern of moles on a hooker’s back….
Not so, not so! But I can see how he was led astray: Just Enough Liebling, the just-published anthology of Liebling’s essays, leaves out much of his best work and includes too much of the other kind. I filed a review for next week’s Weekly Standard a couple of days ago, so I don’t want to jump the gun on myself, but to Lileks and any other skeptics out there I say: wait until my piece comes out, then make up your minds.
I’ll post a link if there’s a free one. Otherwise, I’ll tell you what I said when the time comes. In the meantime, keep your Lugers holstered.