Princeton University Press has published a book on Phyllis Schlafly. In a review for First Things, Charlotte Allen captures one of the things that we like best about Mrs. Schlafly:
Donald T. Critchlow’s impressively researched Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism, a narrative of Schlafly’s political career, explains that it was this unyielding quality of hers—her resolute refusal to cultivate the intellectual and cultural elites of either coast, even the conservative intellectual and cultural elites who were her natural ideological allies—that provided the astonishing power that she managed to wield in American politics for more than three decades.
We might want to resist the eclipse of the written word by the visual image in our schools and homes. Of course, the written word and the moving image, accompanied by sound, are distinct media, embodying divergent artistic excellences. One of our tasks no doubt is to teach students to move between the two and not to judge one by the standards of the other. But it is also significant that, when avid readers compare their beloved books with their cinematic versions, they find the latter wanting. They have the sense that film fails to capture the imaginative richness of the written word, a richness paradoxically founded on what the written word is not compelled to supply for us.
Spence Publishing no longer accepts unsolicited manuscripts—indeed, for the most part we don't respond to unsolicited manuscripts. This policy is disappointing, not to say offensive, to many, but we've never published a manuscript that came to us entirely from nowhere, nor have we succeeded in persuading the very large number of authors who send us their work to ask in advance if we would like to see it.
Al Regnery has observed that "most books should be articles, and most articles should never be written." Joseph Epstein tackled this problem in a piece for the September 28, 2002, New York Times, "Think You Have a Book in You—Think Again," in which he asks
Why should so many people think they can write a book, especially at a time when so many people who actually do write books turn out not really to have a book in them—or at least not one that many other people can be made to care about? Something on the order of 80,000 books get published in America every year, most of them not needed, not wanted, not in any way remotely necessary. . . .
Misjudging one's ability to knock out a book can only be a serious and time-consuming mistake. Save the typing, save the trees, save the high tax on your own vanity. Don't write that book, my advice is, don't even think about it. Keep it inside you, where it belongs.
I am looking at an article entitled, “Forget the holiday fantasy; focus on flexibility.” The article gives step-families pointers on how to “package step-family gatherings with care.” But right at the beginning of the article, without comment, is the fact that parents have holiday schedules dictated by courts. Allow me to quote:
“Next Sunday, Sandy and Steve will spend their first Christmas together as a married couple... But something big will be missing: their children. Both their sons will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with their other parent. At noon, as stipulated in a legal document, Steve will pick up 10-year-old Oskar. At 2 P.M. Also per a legal agreement, Sandy will get 5-year-old Ethan.”
A very amusing piece on book reviewing from the London Telegraph.
In a longer piece on writing, Thomas Sowell has some mordant comments about book reviewing:
What is maddening to me (even when it is not my book) are the reviews that don’t review.
The non-reviewing review seems to be considered chic these days. The first four or five paragraphs don’t even mention the book that is the ostensible reason for the review. Instead, the reviewer puts the whole subject “in context” with lofty generalities and pre-emptive assertions. Then the book’s title puts in a cameo appearance, followed by an analysis of what the author was “really” trying to do and the reviewer’s comments on its appropriateness, originality, and consonance with his own ideological predispositions.
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