April 06, 2005

Must I Have an Opinion?

Should the flags be lowered to half staff for Pope John Paul II? Sure, why not? Greatness comes in many forms, and we don’t have to like everything about a great man to honor him. And freedom of religion doesn’t mean that religion is a disqualification. Those who are objecting are making themselves seem odiously bigoted.

Should Ms. Wisconsin Wheelchair be allowed to keep her crown even though she stood up? Of course, dummies. She’s pretty, and a schoolteacher too. Come on, you rulebound Wisconsinites, try not to make yourselves a national laughingstock.

Saul Bellow is dead at 89. I’m sorry to hear it, though I prefer Malamud and Singer. I loved SEIZE THE DAY (his best novel is also his shortest, fortunately) and the first half of AUGIE MARCH, liked his other books from the Forties and Fifties, but couldn’t tolerate his later work except for HUMBOLDT’S GIFT. A generation of American writers is passing. Arthur Miller, Robert Creeley… In the wings are J. D. Salinger, Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut… Who else? It seems that American literature itself is passing.

Along those lines, the ATLANTIC will no longer be publishing fiction on a regular basis, only an annual August fiction issue. Is this another nail in the coffin? You can bet your mint–condition 1955 deck of Authors playing cards on it. NYT describes that magazine as having given early publication to Mark Twain, Henry James, Ernest Hemingway, and Sue Miller. Sue Miller?? Well, there you have it. If that’s all they could dig up from the second half of the twentieth century, they might as well pack it in.

I see where the paper says that Prince Rainier has died. Who was he, aside from a face on a gossip pages? I haven’t the slightest idea.

Man, this opinion–mongering is hard work. You have to be ready with a response to everything. It would take stronger shoulders than mine, I now realize, to carry this burden unprotestingly. So I leave the task to those Atlases of the opinion world. I need to get some exercise, and maybe try to think of a story to write.