Letters to the editor

I rarely let political differences get in the way of a good read. And there are few essay writers I enjoy reading more than William F. Buckley (and Joseph Epstein—but that’s another story).

Buckley’s come out with a new book, Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription, a collection of letters to the editor of National Review, which ran in the magazine’s “Notes and Asides” section along with the response from the editor — Buckley. The book includes a back-and-forth between Hugh Kenner and Buckley that Wall Street Journal reviewer Andrew Ferguson (who sides with Kenner) calls “a miniature tutorial in rhetoric and style from one of the century’s most rigorous critics directed at one of its most accomplished journalists.”

Ferguson’s review, in today’s WSJ, is a good read as well. I liked his comment that contemporary editors have a Platonic ideal of the contributing writer: “the writer who hands in his article and is then run over by a bus before he can complain about the editing.” He’s close, but I think to meet the Platonic ideal the writer would have to have handed in the article on time before being flattened.

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