WITH ALL DISRESPECT: More Uncivil Liberties by Calvin Trillin

WITH ALL DISRESPECT: More Uncivil Liberties

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Believe it or not, despite what he wrote about editor Victor S. Navasky in Uncivil Liberties (1982), Calvin Trillin is still writing for The Nation (""a pinko magazine printed on very cheap paper"")--and this second collection offers nearly 50 of his short columns, 1982-84. As before, Trillin feels little obligation to write about politics with Nation-like earnestness: unlike a friend called Harold the Committed, ""I am firmly committed to the proposition that whoever is in power is exceedingly silly."" In fact, he feels no obligation to write about politics at all--though there are a few attacks on Reagan, including one heavyhanded clinker (on the Beirut bombing) and more finely cutting comments about the Moral Majority (and ""what I believe intellectuals refer to as the Meshuganeh Right""). Instead, Trillin writes about more pressing concerns: jet lag; the need for better PR on gout (let's call it Dr. Johnson's Disease!); how to pronounce Missouri; holistic dentistry; memories of ""theme seders,"" including one ""at a radical feminist collective where they refused to recognize the killing of the Egyptians' first-born sons as a curse."" There are also devastating digs at preppie-style bigotry, at literary hustlers who see graffiti as fascinating creative expression, at Barbara Gelb's notorious New York Times Magazine paean to Jerzy Kosinski.. (It was so gullible and gushy ""that some people--myself included, I'm afraid--commented on how fortunate she had been that he had restrained himself from telling her that he was, in point of fact, the long-lost Princess Anastasia."") And once again, of course, Trillin misses no opportunity to take lovingly wicked swipes at ""wily and parsimonious"" editor Navasky: ""Pinkos at Rest,"" for instance, ponders the summertime whereabouts of editor Navasky and publisher Hamilton Fish 3rd. (""You mean going to Acapulco is visiting a Third World country?"") Some dated items, a few that are just blandly genial--but even Trillin's most casual casuals are more consistently sharp, wise, and endearing than the hard-working efforts of most other humorists.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1985
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin