March 24, 2008
From the Editor

John Turner

Here in Vermont we're deep into cabin fever season, with no signs yet of rescue. The snow is piled up so high it promises to maintain itself into the latter part of April, which I used to think of as a time of violets and dogwood blossoms.

It is now four weeks since I ordered a Kindle from Amazon and I've not yet heard that it will be delivered. The Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, issued an apology a few days ago, saying the time is approaching when one can order a Kindle and have it shipped the same day. So now, people can wait for when they don't have to wait.

This week I'm going to Danville, to talk about Walker Percy's The Second Coming and to Waterbury to discuss Bernard Lewis's What Went Wrong?. The former is an engaging novel with some fine lines. My favorite, I think right now, is:

"A crazy asshole is worse than a sane asshole."

I've been thinking about that ever since I read it and I haven't been able to decide whether or not it's true. And since it came from the mouth of a character, I can't decide if Walker Percy thought it was true. If any of you can straighten me out on that I'll be grateful.

Last night I watched the Masterpiece Theatre version of Emma.  I didn't think the casting for Mr. Knightley was quite right, but Kate Beckinsale as the main character was all right, though probably not quite as good as Gwyneth Paltrow in the latest Hollywood version. In any case, almost all workings over of Jane Austen are better than the rest of what's on TV, which lately has been dreadful.

I was glad to see that Nicholson Baker has written a novel titled Human Smoke, which casts doubt on the glory of the Second World War. I have a hard time understanding why a conflict that took well more than fifty million lives, most of them in quite horrible ways, continues to be described as the last good war.

On ABC, I looked at a panorama of photographs by Spencer Tunick, of large crowds of naked people. When I first heard of his project, I thought it was simply one more artistic grotesquerie, but the more I look at the pictures I begin to see that he's probably on to something important.

On Book TV, I saw Samantha Power talking about her new book, Chasing the Flame, an account of the career of Sergio Viero de Mello, the U.N. peacemaker. The main effect of hearing her on me was regret that we have a politics such that a person like Ms. Power can't function as an advisor to a presidential candidate. So what if she thinks Hillary Clinton is a monster? So do lots of other people. She may well be wrong about that, but among mature people that wouldn't disqualify her. Everybody's wrong about something. I sometimes think that if we're going to keep on being as we are we should turn our main attention to accumulating a big supply of diapers.

Send us your thoughts.


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