JET LAG by Richard Reeves


The Running Commentary Of A Bicoastal Reporter
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Chiefly Reeves' syndicated (and Esquire) columns, 1979-81--with some initial I-discover-California material and interpolated comments. At first, this might be mistaken for a bona fide book: in 1979, political reporter Reeves married a well-employed Californian, took up bicoastal living, and became a roving columnist. He'd recently written a piece for Esquire ("California vs. the U.S.A.") positing a "tug-of-war, cultural war, between Los Angeles and New York City. . . The new values against the old." Now semi-relocated, he also picked up an assignment from The New Yorker: "California as you see it." That turns out to mean L.A.'s hazardous built-up hillsides (the brushfires, floods, landslides) and the local earthquake peril, plus the last days of the real-estate boom. For Esquire, in turn, he wrote sympathetically about the Chicanos and the '79 California gas crunch. But except for an occasional reference to the California point of view (e.g., their man in the White House), the rest is just a stream of columns--loosely grouped and lightly connected--on such assorted matters as security devices, the Moral Majority, the US auto business, the airline coupon mania (under "Different Places"); prime-time television, the L.A. Times' non-coverage of a nobody's killing, "push-button democracy," the "overrated" powers of the press ("What Do We Know and When Do We Know It"); presidential politics (an entire section); and diverse, mostly-estimable individuals--from Brooklyn highschool principal Abraham Lass to Betty Friedan to William O. Douglas. If Reeves has a hobby-horse, it's summed up by the section-heading "Cruel and Unusual Government"--but examples crop up elsewhere too. He isn't doctrinaire (he'd have gun control, for instance, and stiffer sentencing); but these are still quick, snappy takes on currently hot topics, and no more. Apprentice journalists can pick up some tips on the strategies of column-writing (and keeping gainfully employed); Reeves' fans will find him very much on camera. On the whole, though, this is writing that did its job--to entertain and provoke--at the time it was done.
Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1981
ISBN: 0836262077
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1981


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