CRUISING SPEED by William F. Buckley Jr.


A Documentary
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Bill Buckley, columnist, editor, lecturer, TV moderator, bon vivant spokesman of "constructive conservatism" is a busy, busy, busy gadfly among the knee-jerk liberals -- as this characteristically self-important, and uncharacteristically introspective journal of one week's hobbings and nobbings will show. Whether he's debating Dick Gregory or Ramsey Clark, dining with Truman Capote or Peter Glenville, lecturing at Princeton or Yale, polishing the latest National Review, or answering his correspondence, he is ever solicitous of his style and posture. In fact, except for some highfalutin' law-and-order "Reflections on the Current Disorder," politics here take a back seat to metaphors and epistemology. Buckley, perhaps inspired by brother Jim, seems to want to rub shoulders with the common folk -- even if it's only a long-haired, pot-smoking Yalie ("my Pygmalion"). Just a little bit distressed about his "sardonic," "leering" image, he (almost) asks for sympathy, or rather, "transideological affection." The oft-imputed "hauteur" is no more than "protective coloring" in case his audience rejects him (the fools); lofty disdain toward the victors is the defense of the lonely conservative unused to victory. Still, he can't shake the old habits entirely; frequently you get the impression that Buckley is more offended by the sloppy metaphors and verbal gaucheries of his opponents than by their (lamentable) ideology -- Ramsey Clark's real crime seems to be "an edge of syntactical ineptitude." And if you enjoy watching him mapping the strategies and choosing the rhetorical weapons for his duels, Cruising Speed will provide an airy outing.
Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1971
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1971


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