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October 03, 2004

And In Another Part of Book Country...

by Ron Hogan

The Significant Other took on the role of Beatrice correspondent over the weekend, venturing out to New York Is Book Country panels I couldn't see because of scheduling conflicts. Saturday afternoon, while I stayed at the New York Film Festival to see the cast members of Sam Fuller's The Big Red One chat with Richard Schickel and Christa Fuller (Sam's widow, and a charmingly cynical German countess in a freshly restored scene) talk about what it was like to make a war movie with Lee Marvin, she went down to Washington Square Park to see the writing team from The Daily Show read aloud from America: The Book. (Tangential note: it takes seven expository paragraphs before this review even mentions its purported subject, and the cutesy question "you were wondering when I'd get to it, weren't you?" doesn't make the problem go away. Neither, if the last few months of NYTBR are any indication, will editor Sam Tanenhaus--his version of the Review often, though not always, seems to thrive on writing about the subjects of books in lieu of writing about the books.)

After that reading, the S.O. moved on to Mark Crispin Miller, who spoke to a small crowd about Cruel and Unusual, an in-depth look at the "New World Order" of Bush-Cheney. "We’ve drifted in the direction of Stalin’s Soviet Union," he observed, "in that the truth is what they say it is. If you come up with a counterexample, they say you’re doing propaganda." He also warned that next month's presidential election isn't just an election, but a crisis, and expressed strong skepticism that the electronic voting machines installed in many states could be trusted: "Any state that has them where a Republican wins, I’d mistrust on principle."

Sunday afternoon brought another political panel, which she attended specifically to see Thomas Frank talk about What's the Matter With Kansas. He shared the dais with John Judis, another tough analyst of neoconservatism, Craig (House of Bush, House of Saud) Unger, and Thai Jones, who indirectly caused a bit of hoopla when the videocamera taping the event started to pan the audience during his remarks. An agitated woman loudly demanded to know why they were being taped, and when another audience member exasperatingly asked why she was making an issue of it, she asked if that other woman was "with the government." Which was, I thought when the tale was related to me, a bit much, especially since I would think subversives in hiding wouldn't bother to come out to Book Country, even to support Jones' well-written memoir about growing up in "a radical line."

And if you think that itinerary sounds a bit ideologically lopsided, well, that's the way Beatrice and the Significant Other lean, to be sure, but frankly, looking over the schedule just now, I couldn't recognize any conservative authors on the Book Country schedule. I would've been willing to check some out, schedule permitting, but they don't seem to have shown up. Whether that says something about them, or Book Country, or New York, perhaps isn't for me to say. And if you did see one there this weekend, perhaps you could comment about it below!

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