06 March 2009

John Leonard, Remembered

In NYC recently, the Imperial City, they remembered John Leonard. Had there been any way to do it, I would have been there, even if I couldn't have gotten inside with all the literati; heck, I would've been happy just to stand in traffic for a bit and get the taxis honking in tribute. But no. I'll rely on reports. Such as this one from Charles Kaiser at CJR:
Family members, former colleagues, important writers, and intimate friends gathered yesterday to praise the critic John Leonard for his “love of the life of the mind,” his “incomparably informed generosity,” his reluctance to “pan books or movies or TV shows or children, except when absolutely necessary”—and his unlikely dependence on just ten words: “tantrum, cathedral, linoleum, moxie, thug, dialectic, splendid, brood, libidinal, and qualm.”
It's a nice piece, and best of all, peppered with Leonard's own words. Here's what he once said about Fran Lebowitz:
To a base of Huck Finn, add some Lenny Bruce and Oscar Wilde and Alexis de Tocqueville, a dash of cab driver, an assortment of puns, minced jargon, and top it off with smarty-pants. Serve without whine. This is the New York style, and I for one am glad that it survives and prospers because otherwise we might as well grow moss in unsurprising Omaha.
"Obviously," Kaiser says, "he had spotted a kindred spirit."

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