Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer Liebling ii

The genius of A.J.
Liebling is gener-
ously multi-facet-
ed, so that as I
hazard to admire
it, and recommend
him firmly to my
friends, there is
very much more in
Liebling than a
quenching of one
reader's thirst.

But as one who be-
lieves himself en-
gaged in a public
act of writing, I
have great respect
for Liebling's ap-
petite. He did not
just endure exper-
ience, cataloguing
his sensations. He
cultivated his ap-
petite with excel-
lence, seldom jus-
tifying it as a pol-
icy or a prophylac-
tic, as it palpably
was, but as delight,
which it innocently

I respect his youth
as a footloose free-
lancer of the long
lunch in Paris as a
footing for recog-
nising his enduring
specialty, the ex-
uberant, the gaudy,
and yes, the treach-
erous fraud. If you
can imagine Samuel
Clemens lamenting a
suspicious entrail
in the American cas-
soulet, this is A.J.
Liebling, eviscerat-
ing a tout of race-
track tripe, but not 
without mirth for his 

But I haven't forged
the obvious connection
yet, between a discern-
ing appetite and its
homage to hunger, per
se. Liebling loved the
phonies of life for re-
inforcing his capacity
for better. They were
almost enviably glad,
and he cannot be read
without participating
partly in that, asking
only that they be orig-
inal and authentic in
their scams. What is so
tiresome, nowadays, is
how our frauds all are
nourished by ostensible
"think tanks," spewing
position papers of stag-
nant puerility, financed
by Reaganism's used car
dealers and social climb-
ing petroslobs. We're en-
titled to something bet-
ter than Cato tarts and
Koch crumbs. Yet more to
the point, for all their
frenzied calumnies, we
deserve to see them glad.

A.J. Liebling

Between Meals
  An Appetite for Paris
North Point Press, 1986©

The Jollity Building
The Library of America
op. cit.

No comments:

Post a Comment