Saturday, April 29, 2017

My Take On Menand's Take On Norman Podhoretz's Making It


My take on a take, on Louis Menand on Norman Podhoretz's Making It

...I just read the essay by Menand. My problem with it is that after spending a lot of time describing the trajectory of Podhoretz's career, and even in describing it, he rarely rises above the terms of the book. So, significantly, in respect of this critical failure by Menand, he ends his essay noting Mailer's catty and petty rationale for turning about and dissing Making It in his review of it: Podhoretz hadn't seen fit to ensure that he, Mailer, be invited to a party thrown or attended by, I can't remember which, Jackie Kennedy. Menand's essay is full of gossip and backstabbing, of when Podhoretz was in and was out of which circles, how former friends turned against him. Nowhere did I see anything like a sustained evaluation of the book's merits or demerits and the reasons why. There is one genuine insight in the essay: Podhoretz writing first rate memoir, such his My Negro Problem..., but taking his own experience as the evidence for large and silly generalizing conclusions. Other than that insight, with smart evaluation built into it, I remember no others. Essentially, Menand's essay is well written, smart, at times judicious, at other times juicy, elevated Page Six stuff...

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