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America's most provocative (and conservative) satirist was at one time a raving pinko, with the scab on his bleeding heart to prove it. Through 25 years of his writing, this collection traces O'Rourke's development, from a self-described "nightmare of the bourgeoisie" to the staunch conservative who threatens to aim his shotgun at any revival of the '60s.
We're told cars are dangerous. It's safer to drive through South Central Los Angeles than to walk there. We're told cars are wasteful. Wasteful of what? Oil did a lot of good sitting in the ground for millions of years. We're told cars should be replaced with mass transportation. But it's hard to reach the drive-through window at McDonald's from a speeding train. And we're told cars cause pollution. A hundred years ago city streets were ankle deep in horse excrement. What kind of pollution do you want? Would you rather die of cancer at eighty or typhoid fever at nine?
On the Role of the Journalist:
You say we [reporters] are distracting from the business of government. Well I hope so. Distracting a politician from governing is like distracting a bear from eating your baby. Or like getting a dog to quit chewing on your wallet, anyway. But what do you want us to do? Come on, you're the customer. You tell us. Should we go back to Washington and write hundred-column-inch cerebrum snuffing, eyeball-fibrillating articles on health care reform? How about some NAFTA follow-ups? A nine-part series on the Republic of Kyrgyzstan? Or maybe we should come over to your house and investigate you.
On the Pleasures of Fly-Fishing:
Here's a guy standing in cold water up to his liver, throwing the world's most expensive clothesline at trees. A full two-thirds of his time is spent untangling stuff, which he could be doing in the comfort of his own home with old shoelaces, if he wanted. The whole business costs like sin and requires heavier clothing. Furthermore, it's conducted in the middle of blackfly season. Cast and swat. Cast and swat. Fly-fishing may be a sport invented by insects with fly fishermen as bait.
Excerpted from Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut by P. J. O'Rourke Copyright © 1995 by P.J. O'Rourke. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted February 20, 2006
PJ O'Rourke may be best known for his work as a Rolling Stone Fareign Affairs Correspondent, and his sarcastic and smart articles have formed the basis of PJ's best books (see below). Age and Guile is a collection of some of PJ's other work, a sort of PJ potpourri, as noted above, except that this potpourri is not lavender-scented and will not be found in a flowery bowl on most grandmothers' end tables. This odds-and-ends collection is a treat for PJ fans, with a lot of gems mixed in with some, well, non-gems. The volume begins with old Underground Press articles (when the notedly conservative PJ was a *gasp* leftist hippie) and old short fiction (obviously inspired by the likes of Kesey and HST), none of which, unfortunately, is much fun to read, especially the unforgivably bland fiction which shows why PJ wisely choose to abandon that field. Things pick up a bit with sections from 1970s-era National Lampoon (not as funny as I had hoped) and Automotive Journalism (better than expected) in which PJ begins to hit his stride as a writer. Just like a good dinner, the best stuff is at the end, with bits on Sports (hunting and fishing and golf, not hoops and hardball), Current Events (PJ's specialty), and some odds and ends that includes 'Book Tour,' the funniest piece of PJ's I have ever read, in which PJ seemingly channels Dave Barry. This isn't the book to read to introduce yourself to PJ, but if you are a fan, you have to read it (although you have my permission to skip the early parts and get right to the entree and dessert if you like).
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Posted September 5, 2011
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