15 November 2007 10:55 PM (writing | harper's | lapham | zing)
Lewis Lapham of Harper's fame started a new quarterly, which my friend Jon and I were thinking might be worth a look. Think twice, Jon writes, linking to this wonderfully scathing piece over at Slate:
The Bush administration's forbearance as Gen. Pervez Musharraf proclaims, like [vainglorious monarch], that [famous megalomaniacal statement] recasts [open Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to any random page, close eyes, plunge finger into text, and insert here a précis of incident described therein] as opera bouffe. The sham outrage teases forth memories of the contortions displayed by [famous Ottoman acrobat of the 15th century] or the prevarications of [obscure three-fingered gangster of the 1930s] as the Katie Courics and Wolf Blitzers of their day distracted the starving masses with [celebratory ritual performed by an island-based indigenous people] and competitions to mimic the cry of the mighty [extinct animal from the Cretaceous period].
How to write the sentence Lewis Lapham has been drafting for 40 years, Timothy Noah
Zing! If, after finishing that article, you find yourself craving more acid in your day, try Dabblers and Blowhards.
16 November 2007 2:20 AM
Am also a fan, and this blog entry reminded me that I had not yet subscribed to his new quarterly. I just did.
I read the article, and I did not really see anything wrong with those quotes. I usually enjoy the well crafted prose, and the arguments that Lewis builds on his articles, so the actual details of one sentence or one paragraph have not really entered my radar. It seemed like a petty review from a jealous man.
I also tend to repeat myself ("I also" being one of my most common expressions, and "common expressions" being another one), so I guess am willing to cut some slack to Lapham as I never really noticed this trend in his book or in his "Notebook" entries on Harper's.
16 November 2007 4:12 AM
If I'm speaking for the record, I should mention that I usually enjoy Lapham's writing, and even Graham's. Easy targets, though.