main: February 2007 Archives

Dallas author Ben Fountain's debut collection of short stories, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara -- one of my top ten picks from last year -- has won Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers Award. Eric Blehm's The Last Season won for non-fiction.

February 28, 2007 6:21 PM |

It's not available online, it seems, but my review of Larry McMurtry's new novel, When the Light Goes, appears in the March issue of Men's Vogue, currently on newstands but not in my mailbox.

February 28, 2007 9:22 AM |

Michael Tomasky's essay on the future of the Democratic party in the current issue of The New York Review of Books is very thoughtful, well worth reading whether one agrees with its conclusions or not.

Tomasky points out that with the '08 election, we will be coming off two, full two-term administrations, the first time the country has done this since 1824. Yet polls indicate that after such lengthy immersions with both parties, taking us in very different directions for the country, we are pretty much back exactly where we were in 1992 in terms of the split electorate. We're still battling the culture wars, still fighting between laissez-faire economics and more government intervention in areas such as health care or the environment. In short, we do not seem set for any sort of era-defining political swing, no New Deal, no Reagan Revolution. We continue to battle over incremental shifts here and there in the electorate.

Because the current three frontrunners for the Democratic nomination -- Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama and John Edwards -- present such different definitions of the Democratic Party, the next year and a half until the election "will be the most consequential eighteen months the party has faced in some time." (One might say the same for the Republican party, given the current lack of any sufficiently popular yet hard-right religious candidate to satisfy Christian conservatives, according to David Kirkpatrick's Sunday article in The New York Times about a recent meeting of the secretive Council for National Policy.)

Tomasky's essay is essentially a review of several books -- including Mark Halperin and John Harris' The Way to Win and James Carville and Paul Begala's Take It Back: A Battle Plan for Democratic Victory, books that have gotten a fair amount of attention already. But he gives special care and some really cutting analysis to Senator Charles Schumer's Positively American: Taking the White House in 2008 because Schumer, unbeknownst to many people, is extremely powerful in centrist Democratic politics at the moment (he was and still is in charge of the Democratic senate campaign committee, picking candidates and raising and doling out money), and it's his catering-retail politics, shading things to be as palatable as possible to a wide, middle-class vote, that Tomasky sees as so short-sighted (and so close to Hillary Clinton's own thinking). Schumer's book completely ignores, for instance, that large rock in the middle of the Democratic road, the one named Iraq, and that other one that separates centrists and leftists: balancing the budget vs. public investment.

"It is one thing," Tomasky writes, "to speak to people as consumers and as parents. But is it possible to speak to people as citizens, asking them to participate in something that has a larger national purpose?

This makes many Washington Democrats uneasy -- it sounds to them like mushy idealism, and, far worse, like it might require them to get into a debate about raising taxes."

Obviously, it's way early in the campaign, but Tomasky has laid out some smart analysis of what lies ahead.

February 27, 2007 9:59 AM |

Julie Bosman's story in Sunday's New York Times makes the point I did last year: Most of the guests on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are authors. The programs have become premiere showcases for books -- unfortunately, for non-fiction books almost exclusively.

So why not extend the model? A humorous, culture-news or book-news program on cable? Here's what I told Critical Mass, the National Book Critics Circle's website Aug. 15:

"I'm currently talking to an agent about developing a favorite project of mine. It'll probably come to nothing, but I think it's a terrific idea: a cable TV program like The Daily Show -- but about books (or perhaps the arts in general). Think about it: The majority of the guests Jon Stewart interviews are authors of some kind, anyway. We'd just cut back on the politics, put in more backstabbing bookchat. It wouldn't be the usual respectful, Charlie Rose sit-down schmoozefest, but a news program/spoof -- with real items from the field. I want a TV show that can handle Peter York's Dictator Style: Lifestyles of the World's Most Colorful Despots seriously and John Updike's Terrorist bemusedly.

I doubt it could be a daily program, but weekly? Why not? There's this tremendous amount of literary-cultural material that is always mysteriously ignored by the celebrity obsessives on ET, by the happy chatterers on the morning shows, by Oprah (blinded by her tearful uplift) and by all the dusty, heavyweight policy wonks on Book TV.

What's left is most everything in literature -- everything funny or maddening or stupid or wonderful. All we have to lose is our hushed, reverential treatment of authors and books."

February 25, 2007 10:21 PM | | Comments (2)

Keith Dixon writes James M. Cain-ish novels -- noirish tales written in a wonderfully succinct, sardonic style, depicting an unforgiving world where people are trapped by money needs and by family ties. In Mr. Dixon's case, this has meant fathers and sons. In his debut, Ghostfires, it was a drug addict father dependent on his alcoholic son, and no good was going to come from that.

In his sharp new novel, The Art of Losing, it's a perpetually cash-strapped indie filmmaker, Michael Jacobs, too proud to ask for funding from his rich father or even his more successful and pined-for co-worker, a beautiful Danish director named Beck Trier (surely a joke on Lars von Trier). Michael's last three films have flopped, which sets him up for a race-fixing scheme concocted by his producer-buddy, Sebby Laslo. Laslo is such a gambling addict, the bookies won't even take his bets anymore, so he needs Michael to front the bet. But it won't be the proverbial 'sure thing' to win. Laslo has figured out the art of losing: He has a jockey who's riding the favorite horse and he'll throw the race -- while they bet on the next two likely contenders.

February 21, 2007 12:40 PM | | Comments (1)

I've always found the Fox TV series, 24, morally reprehensible -- despite what a great many TV critics, Emmy voters and even former colleagues at The Dallas Morning News have said. The fact that two years ago, conservative talk-show host and Morning News columnist Mark Davis used a fictional situation in 24 to justify real-life torture only sealed my assessment of the show's glorification of brutal and illegal tactics. It's long been a pathetic irony of the debate over torture that conservative advocates of physical coercion -- such as our president, vice-president and John Yoo -- have presented themselves as hard-headed and practical when, in real life, the interrogation tactics they espouse are often ineffective and, in fact, are welcomed by the fanatically devout who wish to be martyrs. What's more, week after week in 24, torture advocates find a fantastical, extreme situation devised for dramatic purposes -- a ticking time bomb with a terrorist holding the secret to defusing it -- and use it to justify employing torture when no such imminent annihilation exists.

Now, Jane Mayer in a "Letter from Hollywood" in the New Yorker reports that even the Pentagon and West Point instructors fear 24 has gone too far, influenced too many minds, including some of the military personnel we've been training for Iraq. Radio host Laura Ingraham is quoted in the piece: During a recent hospital stay, she says gratefully, watching agent Jack Bauer torture terrorist suspects made her feel better.

There lies the real impulse behind many such tactics. Revenge.

February 20, 2007 12:34 PM | | Comments (4)

Eric & Us, Jacintha Buddicom's memoir of growing up with George Orwell, seems to be predictable proof of a proper old biddy's misunderstanding of a childhood chum. We were genteel! she protests. We didn't grow up in the dark, unpleasant, repressed little world Orwell depicted.

But then her story turns unutterably sad and painful. Kathryn Hughes explains why.

February 19, 2007 12:31 PM | | Comments (3)

Actually, the reasons my posts on book/daddy were so few and so slim this past week were 1) I had the flu (still recovering from it, truth be told), 2) I had to finish a grant proposal for a friend (and missed the deadline anyway) and 3) my father-in-law, Bernie Shub, died. His family and friends had an appropriately loving and funny send-off for him at the Rolling Hills Country Club in Arlington. A memorial service at a golf course was perfectly fitting: He owned and ran the pro shop there.

February 18, 2007 10:18 AM | | Comments (1)

Ah, for the days when Bill O'Reilly might have offered Keith Olberman a choice of pistols and told him where they'd meet with their seconds -- to settle their grievances like gentlemen. The New Statesman reviews Richard Hopton's Pistols at Dawn: A History of Duelling. And here's Sinclair McKay on the undeniable romantic appeal of "all those rapier-thrusting lunatics."

February 15, 2007 2:21 PM |

The flu on St. Valentine's Day -- the gift that keeps on giving.

February 14, 2007 4:20 PM |

Arundati Roy has returned to writing fiction, 10 years after The God of Small Things.

February 13, 2007 9:48 AM |

British comedian Simon Pegg discovers that Americans can 'get' irony, after all.

"There is one cultural myth that just won't die," he argues. " 'Americans don't do irony.' This isn't strictly true. Although it is true that we British do use irony a little more often than our special friends in the US. It's like the kettle to us: it's always on, whistling slyly in the corner of our daily interactions."

But he then goes on to discover shows like Arrested Development, The Simpsons and The Larry Sanders Show, as well as the incredible popularity of Shaun of the Dead on this side of the big puddle. So we Americ ans are ironic, after all.

It's a cute, clever essay but is this a very British thing -- to be this slow on the uptake? Seven years ago, the painfully earnest Jedediah Purdy gained a quick blaze of celebrity with his argument that Americans suffer from too much irony. In For Common Things: Irony, Trust and Committment in America Today, Purdy claimed we were all lazily settling for the glib and dismissive. We're all David Letterman now. Yet soon afterwards, Michael Kelly, editor in chief of The Atlantic Monthly, hailed Americans for our lack of irony, our sturdy faith in the obvious.

To learn how these opposing observations are both right, you'll have to read the jump.

February 12, 2007 9:32 AM |

(appeared originally in Newsday but is no longer available on their website)
Pulp fiction's tough-guy detectives and bloodthirsty maniacs, once at home in paperback, have filled our hardcover best-seller lists for a decade now. It's true that masters of the tough guy school, such as Raymond Chandler, gained intellectual respectability long ago. But this is different, argues Washington Post thriller columnist and novelist Patrick Anderson in his new book, The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction.

The mastodon that once dominated the lists, the middlebrow novel like James Michener's Chesapeake, is nearly extinct. What Americans read today are techno thrillers, legal thrillers and female detective thrillers. And some are as good as any fiction around, Anderson argues.

But it's a triumph he examines in width, not depth. Mostly, he provides a running commentary -- or given his casual style, a strolling commentary. After covering the familiar background from Edgar Allan Poe to Elmore Leonard, Anderson writes that by the 1970s, crime fiction was mutating into something "bigger, darker, more imaginative and more violent: the modern thriller."

He does cite the rising tide of cynicism and slaughter that has influenced the genre. Once Hannibal Lecter got a taste for fresh brain, novelists started dispensing blood with a firehose. And after Vietnam and Watergate, the private eye's suspicion that our system is corrupt had become a baseline assumption. Ours is an era, after all, of O.J. Simpson books and warrantless wiretaps.

But Anderson doesn't recognize the other related trait of many thrillers: a simmering rage that would make Mickey Spillane wince. "HATE," James Ellroy writes about his hero in The Cold Six Hundred. "It moved him. It ran him. It called his shots."

Indeed it did; and still does. Revenge as a spur to righteous violence is as old as Hamlet. But Hamlet had reservations about revenge, his only recourse. In thrillers today, retribution is practically a spiritual path. Yes, Ellroy -- whom Anderson never examines -- is an extreme example. His novels read like outraged shrieks. But even Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch -- whom Anderson admires -- comes equipped with the genre's standard feature, brooding male anger.

Thrillers are fantasies, albeit fantasies balanced by grim realities, such as their mean-street settings. And that's another trait Anderson overlooks: From the New Mexico of Tony Hillerman (a writer he doesn't deal with) to Denise Mina's Glasgow (ditto), crime fiction has drifted out of Los Angeles and New York into Anywheresville. Beyond their relative exoticism, the appeal of such locales lies in the way crime splits a place open. We see families, cops and businesses try to handle violence. We see that society under stress. Or at its most basic.

Given the slick, empty best-sellers by the likes of James Patterson, today's suspense novels can look as market-calculated as an ad campaign. But beyond a few lines about corporate demands for higher profits from publishers, Anderson doesn't really explain why the thriller -- why these particular kinds of thrillers -- are selling now.

What he's extolling is really a shift in sensibility as much as sales. Ours is a thriller-minded age, different from the Cold War that inspired the masterful spy sagas of John le Carré and Len Deighton. He doesn't really address this, either, but one mark of the thriller's new relevance is that novelists on the order of Don DeLillo are in synch with it. Their stories are filled with conspiracies, secrets and violence, while Joyce Carol Oates even writes her own suspense yarns. Not surprisingly, the term "literary thriller" now straddles superb genre books, such as Alan Furst's espionage tales, as well as novels of tremendous artistic ambition, such as Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games.

As a critic, Anderson is enjoyable and perceptive when he's championing Dennis Lehane or dismissing the dreadful Patricia Cornwell or Tom Clancy. But The Triumph of the Thriller is really a survey of his likes and dislikes. As with all such lists, one finds bones to pick. George Pelacanos (an author Anderson hails) has written that John Gregory Dunne's great milestone, True Confessions, proved that writing crime fiction isn't slumming. The book isn't mentioned. Neither is Chester Himes, a common oversight.

To be fair, Anderson notes that with so many thrillers, readers will inevitably find fault with his choices. But the chief fault of Triumph is its lack of sustained analysis. It's mostly a gathering of columns and second thoughts. Considering the thriller's cultural pervasiveness, its newfound sales and quality, it deserves a more rigorous workout than this walk-through.

February 10, 2007 11:39 AM |

While I'm lying around feeling miserable (see below), I've been checking my usual employment opportunity sites and feeds. Yes, still looking for work. But I may have found my career. There's an opening in Dallas for an "on-premise tequila specialist." The responsibilities include developing "tailored solutions for customers using bar experience and creativity."

Does doing six Jell-O shooters and throwing up count?

February 9, 2007 9:57 AM | | Comments (1)

Yesterday I had a mild sore throat. Last night, the TV news showed a map of the US indicating flu outbreaks and Texas was colored red. This morning, I definitely have congestion in my chest.

So blog operations may be interrupted over the next few days while I stagger around, collapse and in general look and sound like the victim of a Word War I gas attack.

"Gassed" by John Singer Sargent

February 9, 2007 9:38 AM |

Members of the National Book Critics Circle are riled up about Bruce Bauwer's nominated book, While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within. Eliot Weinberger's denunciation of the book as racist when announcing it as a finalist for the best criticism award triggered the argument.

I haven't commented for the simple reason that I haven't read it. Taking a sabbatical from Iraq War-terrorism-Islam books for awhile. Read about a dozen in the past two years.

February 8, 2007 8:57 AM |

Chris Ware is the brilliant graphic novelist behind Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and The Acme Novelty Library. He's an amazing, original talent, my favorite living artist, period -- and one who doesn't grant in-person interviews much and doesn't provide author photos.

When I wrote about him several years ago, he sent -- as an author portrait -- a drawing of one of his trademark robots (the one-eyed robot that manages to look retro-cool and sweetly, hopelessly dim -- a combination that is very Ware-y). But YouTube has a very brief clip of the author-artist, including the aforementioned robot. Ware plays some ragtime piano, naturally -- in addition to all of his cartoon work, Ware produces the journal, The Ragtime Ephemeralist.

It would be ragtime, though, wouldn't it? The same period that's evoked by his work, both modern and nostalgic, quaint but witty, drily precise and jazzy.

February 7, 2007 8:05 PM |

Week after week, Jim Schutze is the only reason to read the Dallas Observer. (It's certainly not their theater reviews.) He regularly beats the hell out of the entire Dallas Morning News editorial board, plus all of the paper's city columnists.

Here's why: the political and scholarly grounds for objecting to the Bush presidential library, cogently and forcefully expressed.

David Streitfeld in the Los Angeles Times writes about the rising death toll last year among independent bookstores in California -- previously thought to be immune to Amazon's effect on bookbuyers.

The headline in a surviving bookstore's ad -- "rare but not extinct" -- reminds one of the cliche comparison about "going the way of the buggy whip" as a statement of economic obsolescence. Actually, if a company survives such a cultural-technological shift, it can find that it's now in a much smaller market -- but it has that whole market pretty much to itself. The Westfield Whip Manufacturing Co. in Westfield, Massachussetts (once eyebrow-raisingly known as "Whip City") owns the last remaining, 19th-century whip braiding machine in the U.S. And the town manufactures more high-grade whips than anywhere else in the country. Small consolation, I suppose, to all those people who lost factory jobs along the way, but it does mean there is life after horseless carriages and life after the internet.

Nowhere in Mr. Streitfeld's otherwise thoroughly reported article does anyone address the fact that bookstores satisfy customers with something in addition to just books for purchase. The independents that survive often make themselves an integral part of their communities -- they are "destination" stores, "event" stores.

It's a fact, for example, that the Dallas-Fort Worth area suffers when it comes to author tours because publishers do not want to send an author to an empty chainstore in AnySuburbAnywhere. It's depressing for a novelist to sit at a table for two hours with no one knowing who the hell he is. It might make him think his publisher isn't marketing his book and make him start thinking about getting another publisher. Well-run independents know they have to do more than just set the books out on the shelves; they have to bring people in. When they present authors, they often use mailing lists of customers to draw an audience.

Which is why publishers repeatedly send big-name authors to Book People in Austin or Brazos Bookstore in Houston -- and bypass all of Dallas-Fort Worth. There is no major independent bookstore here. An author can be touring to 12 cities, I've even seen 24-city tours -- and Dallas-Fort Worth isn't on his itinerary. Authors such as Martin Amis have come to Texas several times, and never stopped here.

So that's why it's worrisome when a Clean Well-Lighted Place closes or a Micawber closes. It's not just that Amazon has killed another one; it's that a long-time community asset has gone, a gathering place for people who read, a place to connect over coffee and books and shared literary interests. There aren't many such places left in American cities, whether the place is public, private or commercial.

February 7, 2007 9:25 AM | | Comments (1)

" 'If you want to get that scholarship and go to Oxford and get into the Civil Service and be a great man and have two thousand pounds a year and a nice clean wife with hot and cold and a kid with real eyes that open and close and a garage for two cars and a savings' book, you'll have to work in your dinner-time. All the good boys round here work in their dinner-time.'
'They've been writing names all over Eve, Mr. Ji-jimson. It's b-beastly, b-beastly.'
'Yes, they seem to have appreciated my picture a whole lot.'
'I wonder you can go on pa-painting, Mr. Jijimson, for such people.'
'I like painting. That's been my trouble all my life.'
'I wu-wish I could paint.'
'Now, young chap, you go home quick; before you catch anything.'
And I chased him out."

--The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary

February 6, 2007 9:28 AM | | Comments (1)

... this Thursday, February 8, and want to see me express this kind of jollity in public, I have been invited to speak at one of WordSpace's evening events. I'll be hemming and hawing around the topic, "Why Listen to Critics?" -- an engagingly self-fulfilling, self-negating exercise in that you'll have to listen to a critic in the first place to hear any attempted answer.

Our Hero: The Happy Critic

Wine is served at 7 p.m., I begin mutttering 30 minutes later, but you really should call in advance to 214-826-0877, so Martha will know how much liqour to round up and pour in the vats. Critics should all be thick as a Brik: Smiley, the guy in the photo, is actually Russian constructivist and formalist critic Osip Brik, as photographed by Aleksandr Rodchenko, 1924 -- or just about the time Stalin's regime started harrassing and exiling avant-garde writers like Brik.

Why Listen to Critics?
Thursday, February 8
7 p.m.
1523 Abrams Road
Dallas, Texas

February 5, 2007 5:30 PM |

The suggestion that SMU accept the Bush presidential library only on the condition that the president rescind his own Executive Order 13233 has made the front page of The Dallas Morning News. In other words, it's moved beyond the editorial pages of The New York Times and has brought back the legal issue of Bush's nullifying the Presidential Records Act.

I still hold out little hope for the proposal: It would require President Bush, in effect, to admit to a mistake, something his administration hasn't done. And the principle of open scholarship goes directly against his basic, secretive inclinations as well as his belief that l'etat, c'est l'executif. It would also require SMU to put at risk a half-billion dollar bequest and a shot at national scholarly stardom, i.e., notoriety -- something that that ambitious little university wouldn't do.

Alas, still no discussion about what the library will do to the neighborhood.

February 5, 2007 8:33 AM |

In The New York Review of Books, Michael Chabon's essay on Cormac McCarthy's novel, The Road, is extremely interesting and insightful in that he argues against the book being taken as a sci-fi novel, even though "all the elements of a science fiction novel of the post-apocalypse are present or at least hinted at ...: the urgent naturalism of McCarthy's description of torched woodland, desiccated human remains, decaying structures, human and natural violence; the ambivalence toward technology embodied in the destructive-redemptive role of fire; the faint inventive echoes of works like Roger Zelazny's Damnation Alley and the Mad Max movies...."

Mr. Chabon takes this stand because he believes that rather than a break into a new genre or a departure from McCarthy's previous work, The Road represents a return to it -- that is, a return to his work from before The Border Trilogy (All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, Cities of the Plain), specifically, a return to the Gothic horror and adventure stories most fully embodied in Blood Meridian.

This echoes something of the judgment in my September 24 review for The Dallas Morning News: "His novels have headed toward this unforgiving Judgment Day since at least Blood Meridian, which marked his move from Tennessee to Texas with a savage, revisionary Western filled with murderous humans akin to the beasts from Alien."

An aside: I've always felt that the over-the-top brutality of Blood Meridian was a significant influence on Larry McMurtry's own, increasingly gruesome, post-Lonesome Dove Westerns. Lonesome Dove and Blood Meridian both came out the same year, 1985, and despite the popular affection for the Pulitzer Prize-winning McMurtry novel, it was actually intended, in its own way, to debunk the myths of the cowboy hero, depicting pointless deaths, pointless sex, the natural horrors of 19th century life in Texas, etc.

To his complete surprise, McMurtry has said, the saga was received instead as an Epic Romance of the Cattle Drive, something of a "Gone With the Wind of the West." America's love for the mythic West, he concluded, was stronger than any defilement he could come up with. Depressed and disoriented by his quadruple bypass operation -- and as I said, influenced by the example of McCarthy's novel -- his Westerns became increasingly harsh and almost nihilistic, beginning with 1993's sequel, Streets of Laredo.

A chief difference between McMurtry and McCarthy, I would argue, is that McCarthy's worldview is actually harsher but never nihilistic. Much like Samuel Beckett's poetry-and-humor-in-the-face-of-the-void, McCarthy's writing is often so beautiful, it conjures its own spell against despair, a point Chabon makes. (McMurtry's prose style, in comparison, isn't in the same league as McCarthy's.) But also, McCarthy really does hold to an Old Testament sense of punishment and purgation: He acts like an angry Jehovah toward his puny little human characters, rarely but occasionally taking pity on them.

Or rather, everything I've said about McCarthy's work holds true before and after The Border Trilogy. Those three novels now seem like "a detour," as my review noted. "Mr McCarthy's flinty wrath was muted, but only softened into heartbreak and tragedy." With The Road, his vengeful god of justice has returned full force.

Chabon makes much the same argument but in terms of genre, and given McCarthy's penchant for barbecuing babies (as his vicious marauders do in The Road), Chabon's points about McCarthy's strong tendency toward Gothic horror are well taken. I have one addition to make to Chabon's genre analysis, one that my review originally made but which no one seems to have picked up on: The central image in The Road of a father and son against the world, of a solitary warrior-father -- a sad, beleagured but noble figure -- pushing his young son around in a cart in a bleak, lawless countryside while fighting off wandering gangs and cutthroats lying in wait owes a great deal, it seems to me, to the samauri manga series, Lone Wolf and Cub by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima. To many Americans, this may seem like an improbable and most likely forced connection on my part, but Lone Wolf and Cub is a landmark in graphic fiction and one of the longest-running, most popular works in Japan, with something like 27 volumes in print, six film adaptations, four stage plays and a television series. And in this light, the mixture in The Road of astonishing lyricism, natural beauty (if charred and broken), lonely male heroism and barbaric violence can seem almost Japanese at times, like something out of a black-and-white Kurosawa.

February 2, 2007 10:24 AM | | Comments (1)

This site will observe a day of silence in honor of Molly Ivins. She was a wiser political thinker and tougher Texan than President Bush and Governor Rick Perry combined, although that's a little like saying the Pacific Ocean is somewhat wetter than a damp sock.

That sort of folksy Texas shtick from Ms. Ivins -- when her columns were collected in single volumes -- could get repetitious. After all, it's pretty easy; even Dan Rather can do it. But anyone who dismissed her as just a populist humorist, a female Will Rogers, never read her bare-knuckled yet compassionate journalism. Plus, she often was funny, and with pinpoint accuracy. Her description of Dallas as the kind of place that "would have rooted for Goliath against David," is one of the finest portraits of the city in a single line.

And she was funny in the face of some prettty horrible adversities, living with cancer and working as a liberal columnist in Texas. She was a frequent life preserver in arguments I'd have with friends in New York City. Don't get me wrong, I love the city, but it's a rite of passage for almost anyone who lives here. They'd start up again about how could I possibly live in a state that has produced such racists and powerful reactionaries, not to mention the awful oil industry, and I would cite three names to shame them -- Alphonse d'Amato, Crown Heights and Wall Street -- and one name to stand for the best of this state: Molly Ivins.

Not only was she an effective counterweight, just mentioning her often made them smile.

February 1, 2007 7:09 AM | | Comments (1)


Best of the Vault


About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the main category from February 2007.

main: January 2007 is the previous archive.

main: March 2007 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.