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Philip Roth vs. John Updike
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From my new book review in Taki’s Magazine of the already-canceled biography of novelist Philip Roth:

Roth vs. Updike
by Steve Sailer

May 11, 2021I hadn’t planned to buy the new authorized biography of novelist Philip Roth, author of Portnoy’s Complaint and American Pastoral, because I am at best a lazy admirer of Roth, having read only a handful of books by the indefatigable novelist who died in 2017 at 85. But when I saw it on the bookstore shelf, I grabbed it because the biography is being permanently taken out of print by its own publisher, Norton, for #MeToo reasons.

Blake Bailey’s Philip Roth is already unavailable on Kindle. In the coming digital dark age, it may be prudent to have some physical books stashed in your basement so you can at least say, “These fragments I have shored against my ruins.”

Indeed, the only thing unexpected about the cancellation of the biography of Roth, a contender, alongside his friend and rival John Updike, for the title of The Great American Horndog, is that the justification wasn’t Roth’s own history of philandering but his biographer’s.

Read the whole thing there.

I’m interested in career arcs. Here’s a graph I made of the number of Goodreads ratings for each of the novels of Updike (blue) and Roth (red) with each author’s age at publication along the horizontal axis. (I could have also used year because the two were born only 366 days apart in the early 1930s.)

Both got off to fast start in their 20s. Updike, on the basis of his Rabbit novels dominated Roth in mid-life, but then Roth became very popular in his 60s as Updike faded.

Updike viewed himself as a sort of literary athlete and expected, like an athlete, to decline from a fairly early age. I sometimes wonder whether Updike was a little complacent about the inevitability of decline and could have driven himself harder as he got older to write one more great book.

Roth was a huge baseball fan as well, but he didn’t identify as much with athletes. He had major health problems with his heart and back in his late 40s and 50s, but then came back very strong in his 60s.

By the way, I finally read Updike’s famous 1960 New Yorker article about Ted Williams last baseball game “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.” It’s offers an interesting look into the way that an extremely intelligent fan thought about hitting statistics before Bill James. I’m interested in the intellectual history of baseball statistics both because I’m interested in baseball statistics and because I find the history of baseball statistics analysis a way to gain insights into how thought develops over the generations.

Ted Williams was a huge figure in his own day, both because sportswriters tended to dislike him and look for reasons to put him down, while ordinary fans recognized him as a great hitter — if they went to a ballgame, Williams was most likely to be the offensive star of the game. Updike writes:

My personal memories of Williams begin when I was a boy in Pennsylvania, with two last-place teams in Philadelphia to keep me company. For me, “W’ms, lf” was a figment of the box scores who always seemed to be going 3-for-5.

Updike wants to make the case that Williams lived up to his stated ambition:

“All I want out of life is that when I walk down the street folks will say ‘There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived.'”

But Updike is up against the then regnant conceptual tyranny of batting average as the measure of hitting.

In sum, though generally conceded to be the greatest hitter of his era, he did not establish himself as “the greatest hitter who ever lived.” Cobb, for average, and Ruth, for power, remain supreme. Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Joe Jackson, and Lefty O’Doul, among players since 1900, have higher lifetime averages than Williams’ .344. Unlike Foxx, Gehrig, Hack Wilson, Hank Greenberg, and Ralph Kiner, Williams never came close to matching Babe Ruth’s season home-run total of sixty. In the list of major-league batting records, not one is held by Williams. He is second in walks drawn, third in home runs, fifth in lifetime averages, sixth in runs batted in, eighth in runs scored and in total bases, fourteenth in doubles, and thirtieth in hits.

Batting average was invented in the 19th Century by the New York Times cricket reporter Henry Chadwick (who came from one of those English liberal intellectual families that seem to come up a lot here). He divided a batter’s number of basehits, whether singles or four-baggers, by the number of at-bats. He chose to not include walks (when a batter is awarded first base by not deigning to swing at four bad pitches) in either hits or at-bats.

This became the most prestigious hitting statistic and the player with the highest batting average was considered the “batting champion.”

This proved a useful statistic, although Babe Ruth’s introduction of the power game after WWI exacerbated two flaws in batting average: singles were treated as being as valuable as homers and wheedling a walk from the pitcher was ignored. Ruth’s strategy of not swinging at pitches he couldn’t hit out of the park stressed the weaknesses in batting average, but it retained some of its prestige.

Still, the repute of batting average can be exaggerated. The MVP award tended to go to power hitters who drove in the most runs rather than batting champions.

Ruth was colossally popular with the public, likely the most beloved American athlete of the 20th Century. But his image remained slightly louche with baseball pundits because of their traditional fixation on batting average as the measure of the man.

Williams had extraordinarily high batting averages, hitting .406 in 1941 (the last .400 hitter) and .388 in 1957 at age 38. He also hit a lot of home runs (although playing in Fenway Park with its deep right field fence, missing about 4.5 seasons to being a fighter pilot in training in WWII and in combat, as John Glenn’s wingman, in Korea, and suffering numerous injuries in his early thirties kept him from challenging Ruth’s record). And he walked extraordinarily often, leading the league eight times.

So, Williams, despite being not a fast runner, led the mighty American League of the 1940s in runs scored six times in his first eight seasons.

But because walks aren’t included in batting average, it almost seemed as if Williams were lollygaging on the job: e.g., he only his 40 homers once in his career.

Modern statistics such as OPS+ (on-base percentage plus slugging average adjusted for the league and the home ballpark) put Williams second only to Ruth as a hitter.

But Williams’ career batting of .344 was only the sixth highest of the 20th Century, with Ty Cobb’s .367 leading (Cobb’s average has since been reduced to .366). In perspective, on Baseball Reference’s lists of the top two dozen career batting averages, Williams is the highest ranked photo in color. The only other color photo is Tony Gwynn’s at .338.

Updike in 1960 defended Williams against the dual but contradictory accusations that he only cared about his batting average and that he should have boosted his batting average by punching singles to left:

In addition to injuries, there were a heavily publicized divorce, and the usual storms with the press, and the Williams Shift—the maneuver, custom-built by Lou Boudreau, of the Cleveland Indians, whereby three infielders were concentrated on the right side of the infield, where a left-handed pull hitter like Williams generally hits the ball. Williams could easily have learned to punch singles through the vacancy on his left and fattened his average hugely. This was what Ty Cobb, the Einstein of average, told him to do. But the game had changed since Cobb; Williams believed that his value to the club and to the game was as a slugger, so he went on pulling the ball, trying to blast it through three men, and paid the price of perhaps fifteen points of lifetime average. Like Ruth before him, he bought the occasional home run at the cost of many directed singles—a calculated sacrifice certainly not, in the case of a hitter as average-minded as Williams, entirely selfish.

Updike was very attuned to Williams’ career arc:

After a prime so harassed and hobbled, Williams was granted by the relenting fates a golden twilight. He became at the end of his career perhaps the best old hitter of the century.

Updike didn’t have modern statistics like OPS+ and WAR, but his reading of the statistics available to him (before the Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia was published in 1969)suggested Williams was indeed the greatest. Updike imagines that a comprehensive statistic could be assembled in which Williams was the greatest hitter.

But if we allow him merely average seasons for the four-plus seasons he lost to two wars, and add another season for the months he lost to injuries, we get a man who in all the power totals would be second, and not a very distant second, to Ruth. And if we further allow that these years would have been not merely average but prime years, if we allow for all the months when Williams was playing in sub-par condition, if we permit his early and later years in baseball to be some sort of index of what the middle years could have been, if we give him a right-field fence that is not, like Fenway’s, one of the most distant in the league, and if—the least excusable “if”—we imagine him condescending to outsmart the Williams Shift, we can defensibly assemble, like a colossus induced from the sizable fragments that do remain, a statistical figure not incommensurate with his grandiose ambition. From the statistics that are on the books, a good case can be made that in the combination of power and average Williams is first; nobody else ranks so high in both categories.

Was Williams a greater hitter than Ruth?

Ruth was the most important revolutionary in baseball history. He earned, and deserved, a great leap forward over his rivals. On the other hand, Ruth’s statistics relative to his rivals in the 1920s were almost silly: Ruth was playing a different game then they were.

Williams arrived in the big leagues in 1939 a generation after the Ruth Revolution of 1919, competing against hundreds of men who had grown up on Ruth’s revelations.

So it’s a matter of philosophy or taste who was the greater.

Anyway, it’s clear that Updike in 1960 understood a big part of the Jamesian revolution in baseball statistics analysis of the future: that power mattered more than batting average. It’s not clear, though, that Updike quite understood the other part: that Williams’ walks were a huge offensive weapon.

The statistic of what is now called on-base percentage had been introduced in 1954 in a Life article by Branch Rickey and Alan Roth. But it took a long time for the old prejudice against walks as merely an error by the pitcher rather than an accomplishment by the batter to decline. Updike in 1960 cites Williams’ huge number of walks but doesn’t extoll them.

So, the value of power was well accepted long before Bill James, but the value of not making an out because you got walked to first was still hazy in the minds of even the cleverest baseball fans such as John Updike.

 
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  1. yarro says:

    Sorry, two superficial American stylists and pornographers, interesting for adolescents. Roth’s books seem mostly a symptom of mental illness. Portnoy… And Updike skates smoothly on the surface of things, prosperous and glib. The only recent American authors who have engaged deeply and bravely with this country’s reality have been Wolfe and Bellow. Please review Mr. Sammler’s Planet (1970), it has NY in a racial breakdown, and a prototypical Elon Musk trying to get to the moon… it could have been written yesterday.

  2. anon[587] • Disclaimer says:

    In the coming digital dark age, it may be prudent to have some physical books stashed in your basement so you can at least say, “These fragments I have shored against my ruins.”

    • Agree: Desiderius, AceDeuce
    • Replies: @El Dato
    , @Bill B.
    , @Alden
  3. One thing you will learn from studying the lives of leading authors is that more than a few intelligent women can’t resist a literary genius.

    One thing you will learn from studying the

    livers

    of leading authors is that a lot of them drank themselves to death.

    Never read Roth, but I first read Updike’s Couples when I was 17 and it was there that I learned everything I knew about America.

    Rabbit Is Rich is, well, rich, and the book I enjoyed the most in the series was the final book in the Rabbit series, called Rabbit Is Dead, or whatever the title is, which has wonderful depictions of Florida life. Rabbit Redux is also a damn good read.

    I also remember reading The Coup many years ago, and, yes, it was excellent and an excellent antidote to The Tales of Wakanda. The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth, author of Day of the Jackal, is a good companion book too.

    Updike is one of those virtuoso writers like Anthony Burgess, the like of whom we may not see again. I tend to associate him more a with travel writers like V.S. Naipaul and Paul Theroux, and no doubt they did all influence each other in the same way that the Beach Boys and the Beatles were in a kind of competition for our hearts and ears. (I am talking about my generation.)

    • Agree: AceDeuce
  4. Speaking of the digital dark age, I still retain many physical books. My favorite is the “Black Book of Communism, Crimes Terror Oppression”, originally published by Harvard Press and authored by Stephane Courtois in French. It used to be 30 bucks but now it’s more than doubled in price.

    It was already heavily restricted on the UC Berkeley campus in 2002. Out of tens of millions of books on campus, there was only one copy of it in “circulation.” I had to buy a copy of it for my political science professor, A. James Gregor, a real Italian intellectual that the university could not fire, so he could partake in the truth. He was a Marxist scholar, but no one who hired him ever bothered to read his books. He turned me on to the philosophy of Fascism (Giovanni Gentile). Here’s the Wikipedia on both:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._James_Gregor

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Book_of_Communism

    There was only one copy of the Black Book of Communism on campus and it was located in the graduate studies library. You had to provide a driver license (I’m not kidding) and you could only check it out for 1 hour at a time. It took a week and a half to get through that 800 page tome.

    I saw this book banning 20 years ago, this is why I have physical books.

    • Replies: @slumber_j
    , @Jack D
  5. I’m surprised Updike hasn’t been cancelled for his “homophobic” surname.

    His relative was mayor of NYC during the Draft Riots. That won’t save him, as the mayor was mostly powerless during the crisis, and lost favor on both sides. Kind of a 19th-century Jimmy Carter.

    George Opdyke: The mayor during the Civil War Draft Riots and his unsavory connection to New York’s fashion industry

    • Replies: @Alden
    , @Clyde
  6. JimDandy says:

    Both were worthy, but both were overrated because, respectively, they spoke to and became icons of the two demographics that controlled New York publishing during their glory days.

    • Replies: @slumber_j
    , @s.n.
  7. My question is: Who reads these guys? Does anyone read Roth or Updike because they want to or is it because they’ve been deemed of literary importance? We seldom hear actual human beings talk about reading one of their novels.

    I don’t believe they have a popular audience. So, I’m guessing it’s the usual crowd that wants status. But do they actually get any intrinsic value out of what they read?

    Maybe there’s more to it. But when I glance at their works, it’s like listening to some intelligent after dinner conversation. Interesting to an extent, but not much point to it.

  8. vhrm says:

    Updike took a break from his usual subject matter of suburban adultery to visit Africa and then spent a year in the library researching the continent for The Coup, an astonishing 1978 novel about an American-hating Marxist-Islamist dictator who happens to have the prose style of John Updike. In it, at the depth of the post-Vietnam slump, Updike prophesied that American capitalism would win the Cold War.

    Although it was a best-seller at the time, The Coup is utterly forgotten today, even though it includes an uncannily accurate foretelling of Barack Obama’s parents’ brief marriage.

    Some decades ago though quite a while after it was published The Coup was assigned reading in a Catholic High School English class i had some contact with.

    Presumably some of this stuff was formative, but i think maybe it mostly missed its mark. Illustratively, the only thing i explicitly remember about the book is a description about a dual use flute during the dictator’s exile glamping in the desert with his mistress (?) and that he drove a Mercedes.

    The teacher of said class was probably a considerably more interesting and insightful guy than i appreciated. I wonder what i’d think of him if i met him now.

    Unrelated to the above observation, it looks like some dude on the web mused about The Coup about 10 years ago: https://isteve.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-coup-by-john-updike.html

    • Replies: @Known Fact
  9. Evidently nobody wanted to read what Updike wrote about a Jew, Bech. (One prominent Jewish reader complained that the only reason to believe Bech was Jewish is that Updike said so. How black is Patterson’s Cross?)

    On the other hand, naming a Jew “Swede” did wonders for Roth.

    He outraged future Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert byCross telling him in the late 1980s that few American Jews would ever make aliyah to Israel because, “There is a Zion, and it’s called America.”

    Yeah, but Roth would be a Gentile there.

    • Replies: @Polistra
    , @Anon
  10. Alden says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Thanks I always enjoy your pictures and links.

  11. Anon[385] • Disclaimer says:

    I assume we’ll eventually see this book back in print. Bailey would own the copyright.

    I have a legal proposal for these times: Contracts should from now on be written with the possibility in mind that someone may be deplatformed or cancelled.

    So, for instance, if a university group wants to invite Charles Murray for a talk, he’d say, Great, let’s do it, but also demand that the fee plus any travel deposits, plus a sort of “restocking fee” for inconvenience be deposited in advance in escrow with a law firm or at least be contractually agreed to.

    The same goes for bookings for comedians.

    An author when he signs a contract should make sure that if for any reason whatsoever the book does not come out on schedule through no fault of his own, that he has the right to all edits and formatted publishing files and ebook files in order to be able to use them for publication via a new publisher or self-publishing.

    I would be O.K. with the opposing side being able to weasel out of paying a penalty if they pay to have a neutral third party, such as a law firm, investigate the charges, taking as much time as needed. And really, criminal allegations should have to be taken to law enforcement authorities … or they didn’t happen.

    • Replies: @slumber_j
  12. Franz says:

    Most of the last cohort of heavyweight American novelists… were born between 1930 and 1937. Roth’s explanation for this was that his was the last generation who truly cared about books because they grew up before television.

    It was the last time anyone published new authors. I know three guys who wrote The Great American War Novel about Vietnam. Not one got even a paperback deal. The only book about that conflict anyone can recall is biography, Born on the Fourth of July, and only because of Tom Cruise.

  13. Clyde says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    His relative was mayor of NYC during the Draft Riots ….George Opdyke: The mayor during the Civil War Draft Riots and his unsavory connection to New York’s fashion industry

    “Oct 16, 2017 · Opdyke is Dutch, and means “of the dike”, i.e. someone living in the low coastal areas in the Netherlands. Rachael’s family is said to have been in New York (New Netherlands) since the early 1600’s…..”

    Opdyke were a large farming family in New Jersey. The Updike name being derived from his Opdyke ancestors/

  14. JohnnyD says:

    There’s actually a Jewish professor at Georgetown who’s written a book that sorta cancels Roth for being racist. I say “sorta” because he doesn’t outright try to cancel Roth, but complains that Roth didn’t care enough about Blacks.

    https://www.upress.virginia.edu/title/5393

  15. Polistra says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    On the other hand, naming a Jew “Swede” did wonders for Roth.

    Robert Cohn was no accident in The Sun Also Rises. The middleweight boxing champion of Princeton! A shrewd tip of the hat toward publishers, critics, etc. Did Hemingway get in trouble for pandering? Not hardly. He got in trouble for making the character imperfect. You know, human.

    Speaking of Roth, there’s a nuisance factor named Roth in Hemingway bios. They locked horns over rights and stuff.

    From Steve:

    In the coming digital dark age, it may be prudent to have some physical books stashed in your basement so you can at least say, “These fragments I have shored against my ruins.”

    QFT. Save your old books. It’ll be Fahrenheit 451 very soon.

  16. Anonymous[381] • Disclaimer says:

    Further to your thread about ‘handshake trains’, one earnestly hopes that all those who can claim to having shook the late Mr. Roth’s hand immediately washed their own hand immediately afterward.

    • LOL: Redneck farmer
    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
    , @Ganderson
  17. Simon says:
    @RichardTaylor

    I tend to feel the same way about people who claim to love Henry James and William Faulkner. I can’t help suspecting their sincerity.

    But I’ve read a good dozen of Updike’s novels, and they’ve given me tremendous pleasure. Reading “Rabbit Is Rich” and “Toward the End of Time” (a late, obscure autobiographical book) made my heart sing. I remember reading the latter on a bus and, a couple of times, coming to passages so perfect that I had to close the book and just sit and savor the memory. I once drove five or six hours up to Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, just for the chance to meet and briefly chat with Updike at a lawn party given by a friend’s wealthy mother; and believe me, I’m generally nauseated by that kind of fannish behavior. I would certainly never do that for a rock star.

    Roth was generally too nasty and, when it came to sex, obnoxiously boastful. But “Portnoy” made me laugh out loud.

  18. Updike is very readable as a social commentator in his essays. However, I am not sure he, or Roth, will be much read, as novelists, in near future.

    Simply, because of the death of the novel, only the highest canonical achievements will be read, as well as entertainments. I guess Roth & Updike will have achieved the status of William Dean Howells, or, perhaps, Edith Wharton- historians of past societies (which may be of some interest), but the authors lacked universality & wider appeal. Stylistic exuberance is not enough.

    • Agree: Pheasant
    • Replies: @Peter D. Bredon
  19. Now that Bailey has a best-seller, several women have come forward to announce that they had sex with their former eighth-grade English teacher, who had groomed them by assigning Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita to the class.

    This would be shocking, except that the accusers all admit the encounters were years later when they were adults.

    Huh?

    By the way, women brag about screwing celebrities. Men, as a rule, keep their mouths shut.

  20. whahae says:

    Blake Bailey’s Roth biography is available in digital form on Libgen. Thank god for piracy.

    • Thanks: Nicholas Stix
    • Replies: @Nicholas Stix
  21. The graph was not a good use of your time.

    • Agree: Simon Tugmutton
  22. @Franz

    I’ve read some stuff about getting published by folks who support self-publishing one’s books. Basically, they said you need an agent who is connected with someone at a publisher, and the book connects with the person doing the buying of the rights.

  23. “Updike was a close student of baseball statistics, so he likely wouldn’t have been surprised by Bill James’ finding that baseball stars peak at 27. ”

    At age 32, Babe Ruth hit 60 HRs, and 54 HRs the following yr. At age 37, he hit 42 HRs.

    At age 37, Barry Bonds hit 73 HRs.

    At age 35, Mark McGwire hit 70 HRs.

    At age 37, Hank Aaron hit 47 HRs. (most of his career in a single season). At age 39, he hit 43 HRs.

    At age 30, Mickey Mantle hit 54 HRs.

    As we’re talking about MLB stars, some of the biggest names to ever play the game, in this case, clearly James was wrong. Perhaps James should’ve followed the traditional view, namely that MLB stars tend to peak around age 32-35. It’s more pronounced after the mid. 30’s. Of course, now with better training methods, health and exercise, etc. this can extend a player’s peak years. But of course James never took these real world factors into consideration.

  24. black sea says:
    @JohnnyD

    Thanks for posting this.

    Conversations along these lines should be shown to prospective graduate students along with the question, “Are you really ready to spend your life talking and writing about stuff like this?”

    I’ve read a good deal more Roth than I have Updike, so I don’t have anything to say about the comparison between the two writers. Obviously, they were both cultural celebrities in a way now reserved for the likes of Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kennedy, and Eminem.

    It did seem to me when reading Roth on the subject of Newark that he downplayed a considerable resentment as to what had become of the city. He knew he would be attacked for going very far down that road, but couldn’t resist an excursion of at least a few steps.

    I remember Roth’s Patrimony, an account of his father’s life and physical decline into death, as both harrowing and moving. It’s considered non-fiction, but as Roth used to complain, whenever I write fiction, people say it’s autobiographical, and whenever I write autobiography, people say it’s fiction.

  25. Charon says:

    Onion getting more based by the day


    • LOL: Pheasant
    • Replies: @AndrewR
    , @JMcG
  26. Pericles says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    By the way, women brag about screwing celebrities. Men, as a rule, keep their mouths shut.

    Women get so terribly upset when men compare notes about them. The notion of “revenge porn”, anyone?

  27. El Dato says:
    @anon

    Imagine a future of hysterical women from various anti-X leagues, radicalized by Twitter, shitting on everyone and anyone, anal-retentive Jews powered by AI and tax-deducible donations sniffing out anti-semitism 24/7, transsexuals demanding that you participate in their real-life fantasms or else, soy-fed numales hoping for spare pussy and eager to play along by holding cardboard signs with inintelligible slogans at the protest-du-jour, aggressive blacks demanding that you acknowledge their superiority in everything while demanding handouts at gunpoint and politicians and TLAs instrumenting all of the former to make out like bandits while shutting down investigation of their malfeasance.

    This is your future, Winston.

    • Replies: @black sea
    , @slumber_j
  28. El Dato says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    “Groomed by Lolita” is a new one.

    But this the usual stuff coming from the fairer sex.

    a) At an early age: Having sex with [pack leader person] is just like extreme sports. Fuck yeah.
    b) Years later: [former pack leader person] now has money. I didn’t enjoy it all that much. Come to think about it … HE USED ME AND SHOULD PAY!

    Islam is right about women.

    • LOL: Charon
    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @plannumber9
  29. Rickey was clearly ahead of his time extolling both slugging and on base, though he admitted he couldn’t make much of fielding stats. The greatness of James was mindshare for this insight.
    From a statistical standpoint, much of James work was almost pedestrian. Yet James made a virtue of this with his accessible exposition informed by his deep knowledge of the game.
    Check out his “This time, let’s not eat the bones” to read James without the stats at all. It includes some first rate baseball writing.

    I often thing the curse of “Big Data”, is the proclivity follow the data without understanding the data. Data doesn’t speak for it self, it needs an interpreter. It is left to the Charismaticly gifted to interpret inscrutable language of Data as spoken by the Holy Spirit.

    • Replies: @Ganderson
  30. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    “Perhaps James should’ve followed the traditional view, namely that MLB stars tend to peak around age 32-35.”

    No, they peak in fame around 32-35, not in production. A lot of money got wasted in the early years of free agency on the assumption that MLB stars tend to peak around age 32-35.

    • Agree: Desiderius
  31. AndrewR says:
    @Charon

    Leftists only criticize Israel because they deem Zionists to be “white supremacists” who are a pawn of the “white supremacist” US which is allegedly run by white “white supremacists.” They think only a Nazi could believe that Ashkenazim are not white and that the Ashkenazim run the US which is ultimately controlled by Israel.

    • Replies: @fnn
  32. black sea says:
    @El Dato

    “Imagine a future . . . ”

    Seems to me this is a pretty accurate description of the current moment.

    • Agree: Bardon Kaldian
  33. @Bardon Kaldian

    I hope that Blake Bailey sues Norton for millions. This has got to stop. They keep moving the goalposts from crimes (typically hoaxes) to dubious questions of “morality” to nothing.

    “They” refers to feminazis.

  34. Anonymous[201] • Disclaimer says:

    The other day, the fictitious English cartoon strip character, ‘Andy Capp’ came up in an iSteve thread, with regards to the Hartlepool (UK) by-election.

    Back in the day, in the 1950s to 1970s, the Daily Mirror, the newspaper in which the Andy Capp strip appeared proudly boasted of being the ‘world’s biggest daily sale’, that is, not only the highest paid for circulation of any newspaper in the world, but the single branded product with the world’s biggest unit sale(!).

    Anyhow, Andy Capp was star of the show in the Daily Mirror, and the Mirror, a solidly Labour supporting paper, and strongly identifying with the British working class man, took Andy Capp as their proud symbol and mascot.

    Andy Capp was serially work-shy, sleeping on the sofa during the daytime. All he cared about was playing soccer, drinking beer in the pub, and his whippets, a breed of small greyhound, formerly popular in the UK. He was a habitual wife beater, I recall many a strip simply consisting of several frames of Andy Capp, his fist, and his wife Flo’s face, connecting, and Flo lying flat out on the floor, concussed. Oh, and he was always dodging the rent collector and comically stealing ‘beer money’ from his wife’s handbag.

    Surprisingly, all this as seen as comically endearing and signifying the ‘game’ character of the English working man, and Andy Capp was much loved and cherished as a result.

    I’m only surprised that he hasn’t been damned and obliterated in the Roman way by the lefties.

    • Replies: @martin_2
    , @Art Deco
  35. anon[254] • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t think anyone who has ever played or watched a game of baseball (especially at the lower levels) would be unaware of the near equivalence of a walk to a single

    So it is odd that the statistic that people most watched before recent times was the hit average and not on-base pct.

    I guess a part of it is what you mentioned – that walks to some degree were seen as pitcher errors- but it also is obvious to anyone watching a game that some batters have a real talent at drawing walks.

    Maybe why drawing walks hadn’t been properly respected in the statistics (but was to any half-way knowledgeable observer obviously a very useful talent and strategy in actual games) was because watching so many balls in an at-bat was so damn boring.

    Which brings to mind this observation: With baseball rapidly losing popularity because it seems so slow in today’s fast-paced world, wouldn’t the most obvious change to thwart that be lowering the number of balls and strikes to respectively get walks or strike-outs?

    But I guess that would totally distort any historical comparisons, which is also a big part of the traditional national pastime. Baseball seems at the same time to be both kept alive and obsolesced by its long history.

    • Replies: @james wilson
  36. JMcG says:
    @Charon

    Wow. That’s the Onion? I thought they’d had their teeth pulled a couple of years ago like Drudge did.

  37. njguy73 says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    There are “young player skills” and “old player skills.” The former peak around 27, the latter can increase through a player’s 30s. Base stealing*, hitting for average, and defense are young player skills. Those go quickly. Home run power and plate discipline can increase as players learn to work the count and watch for their pitch.

    That’s why if a young player has mainly old player skills, he’ll peak early and quickly decline. Ryan Howard hit plenty of home runs young, but losing his stroke plus getting victimized by the shift doomed him. He wasn’t going to reinvent himself as a slap-hitting, slick-fielding shortstop.

    *Don’t bring up Rickey. He’s the exception to every rule.

  38. @vhrm

    The Coup is the only Updike I’ve ever read, and liked it a lot. I think it led me to try something else but I didn’t get too far with it. Think I’d just read Greene’s The Honorary Consul so I was in an Africa mode.

    Where does Cheever fit in with all this — his novel Falconer is one of the strangest and best I can recall.

    For trilogy fans I’d recommend Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter/Independence Day/Lay of the Land as it follows Frank Bascombe through life. It all starts out very soberly and seriously and gradually cuts loose as he ages and finds himself in real estate, and of course leaving a trail of broken relationships.

    Independence Day even has a strong baseball component as a father-son trip to Cooperstown is a major set piece.

    • Replies: @Tina Trent
  39. @Steve Sailer

    “Perhaps James should’ve followed the traditional view, namely that MLB stars tend to peak around age 32-35.”

    No, they peak in fame around 32-35, not in production. A lot of money got wasted in the early years of free agency on the assumption that MLB stars tend to peak around age 32-35.

    Indeed, Frank Robinson was an exception that proved an embarrassing trade, but heading into his 30s, it was a reasonable bet. Contrast with the career trajectory of Andrew McCutchen, Albert Pujols or countless others. There many who maintain superb performance, but very few who peak in their 30s. The eyeball test might suggest a Randy Johnson or Nolan Ryan.

    But Rickey, again, was a couple generations ahead of his time. “I’d rather trade a play a year too early than a year too late”. You don’t have to be right all the time, just more often than the other guy.

  40. slumber_j says:
    @El Dato

    This is your future, Winston.

    Well, it used to be.

  41. slumber_j says:
    @petit bourgeois

    I’d forgotten that Harvard U. Press actually published The Black Book of Communism. Pretty rich.

    That’s crazy about the UC Berkeley situation.

    • Agree: Desiderius
  42. @RichardTaylor

    I don’t think there is really any popular audience for reading literary novels anymore.

    Two of my sisters read The Milkman, which was a recent Booker prize winner and found it obscure and difficult to read, but Updike is pretty accessible and knows how to do punctuation and paragraphs.

    I am pretty sure that if John Updike had been a British author that the BBC would have dramatized his Rabbit series, and they would be much better known to Americans as a result.

    I guess the ultimate thing is whether the way of perceiving the world and writing about it of an author locks into the receptor sites in the brain of the reader and becomes addictive.

    I have certain favorite authors, for example George Orwell, Naipaul, Paul Theroux, and, yes, Updike up to a point, of whom I will read anything that they have written, even trivial correspondence to their publisher.

    Others don’t click at all or only partially. I have never read any Roth. I started Portnoy’s Complaint and gave it up after a chapter or two.

    I found Norman Mailer’s the Naked and the Dead tiresome, but his Oswald’s Tale compelling.

    I found Catch-22 annoying, and read only part of it.

    George Orwell, a book reviewer himself, described certain novels as “good, bad novels”, meaning that they had obvious defects, but were still popular because they were an enjoyable read and a kind of guilty pleasure. No, he was not talking about Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

    Harold Robbins was like junk food. He just about kept the mind ticking over when there was no internet, left you feeling a bit queasy, but taught you a little bit about American culture and history, and left you knowing what a Carpetbagger was.

    James Michener was more didactic, but a good way of picking up some history lite. My first was Chesapeake, but then I read all the rest.

    Another guilty pleasure is Steve Sailer, deeply flawed, but sometimes interesting and writing things that you won’t see elsewhere.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @SunBakedSuburb
  43. slumber_j says:
    @JimDandy

    Both were worthy, but both were overrated

    Yes. One think I’ve taught my children is that something can be good–even very good–and still be overrated.

    • Agree: JimDandy
  44. Bill B. says:
    @anon

    I am getting rather paranoid now to the point where I wonder if even my ePub and PDF bootlegs are safe in my computer.

    • Replies: @Rob McX
  45. Was Williams a greater hitter than Ruth?

    Watson v Nicklaus

  46. .388 in 1957 at age 38

    A pity the world was one size too small that day to contain the greatness of that 8 iron. One gets a similar sense with Williams and his era.

    • Replies: @Barnard
  47. Bill B. says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Only because the best players were not allowed to play!

    April 2, 1931 – 17-year-old Jackie Mitchell, the second woman to play baseball in the all-male minor leagues, pitches an exhibition game against the N.Y. Yankees and strikes out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The next day, the Baseball Commissioner voided her contract, claiming baseball was too strenuous for women. The ban was not overturned until 1992.

  48. Career average is an irritating statistic, part of the notion that great athletes should retire at their peak instead of continuing on further years, still much better than most but not as great as themselves at their peak, the notion that they have let everyone down by getting older on the field instead of retiring. It is also problematic on the other end; it is more fun to see a stellar but not-yet-prime prospect grow up in the majors instead of just hearing about the great promise he is showing in AAA.

    Career average should be replaced by something like “best 10 seasons.”

  49. @RichardTaylor

    My question is: Who reads these guys? Does anyone read Roth or Updike because they want to or is it because they’ve been deemed of literary importance? We seldom hear actual human beings talk about reading one of their novels.

    Even more- why read imaginative literature which is not considered globally top, and is not entertaining?

    I tried reading Philip Roth, but gave up immediately because I was not interested in Jewish anxieties. I think Roth is read mostly by Jewish readers & by literary people who want to know “what’s going on”.

    Updike … I’ve read “Roger’s Version”, two Rabbit’s novels, S., parts of “Couples”. I didn’t particularly enjoy them, but what was well written about was male & female sexual idiocy & animalistic immorality, vacuity of modern life and the United States urban middle class. I think Updike’s appeal lies in his depiction of sexual boredom (and, hence, various “alternative” life-styles) as well as consumerism & general emptiness of life without any purpose.

    But this is a view on life that quickly becomes unappealing.

    • Thanks: RichardTaylor
    • Replies: @Curle
  50. Anonymous[141] • Disclaimer says:

    Tony Gwynn was a Ted Williams fan. Said that he could talk about hitting better than any of the the coaches.

    • Agree: Desiderius
  51. @Simon

    Henry James, Faulkner, Updike. All these authors were capable of writing wonderful paragraphs, or even several pages. But then they wandered away into obscurity or metaphor or excessiveness or (in Updike’s case) disgusting sexuality. Maybe someone could cobble together their best sentences and make a truly enjoyable book for everyone to read.

    As to Mr. Sammler’s Planet, referenced above, no thanks. Yuck. I read it because Jonah Goldberg recommended it, and was sorry afterward. Is there no way to make modern social commentary without being gross? maybe not…

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  52. Jack D says:
    @petit bourgeois

    I think you exaggerate the rarity of the Black Book. Supposedly millions of copies have been printed. If you want to read it, it is available here:

    https://b-ok.cc/

    as are many other books. Downloading from this website may or may not be legal depending on the copyright laws of where you live.

    I think you are much better off with digital copies than with a paper library. One thumb drive, easily concealed, can hold a vast library that would be impossible to conceal in paper form.

    As for the book itself, it is a tedious read – endless horror. All you really need to know is 100 million dead. The rest is commentary.

  53. @JohnnyD

    When it comes to race, most things are difficult….

    Updike, having black grandchildren, was generous, but he writes on them as an outsider – which is fair- because he sees them as other kind of people. Yet, he is somewhat ambiguous. Roth, I guess, did not write about blacks- he is in similar position to Woody Allen (Allen’s answer to Spike Lee- “I don’t have black friends.”).

    Then, both Updike & Roth have lived after the 60’s, so it is interesting to see how some whites’ perception on blacks had changed. As I wrote on Flannery O’Connor’s comment, in a letter, that she “actually doesn’t like negro race”…

    Most authors are not thinkers. They are not “philosophers”, let alone sociologists, although many of them are, say, intuitive psychologists. As a rule, they don’t think things through, seriously. They just write.

    I wouldn’t say liberal, but magnanimous & humanist white Southern authors had conflicting view on blacks, and Flannery seems to fall into that category. She was an enlightened white, and her position is not much different from Faulkner’s, I’d say in most points.

    [MORE]

    So, what they thought of blacks & whites?

    For them:

    * blacks were there to stay, so some compromise had to be found

    * main points of friction were social, sexual (and economic, too)

    * they considered blacks as physiologically different to whites, a truly alien race. And intellectually permanently inferior.

    * about segregation, they were conflicted. If forced to be explicit, they would- I think- say that they are for integration of a very small number of educated blacks at school, but not social levels (except as nannies etc.). They thought of segregation as something natural, like a change of seasons, but would make it as soft as possible, not to hurt “better negroes” feelings.

    * they thought that blacks were poisonous for white race, that they are an authentic race with authentic culture, manners, types of behavior …..completely unsuited to whites of any kind, especially “Northern European” types

    * sexually, they saw black males as potential predators & black females as nannies. They didn’t think of black females in sexual terms. It is true that some of them described relationships between white men & very light mulatto women, but they were uneasy about it & haven’t come to any conclusion. As regards white women and black men, they thought that bitchy, psycho white females- actually, mentals- could be attracted to blacks, but virtually all normal white women would be automatically repulsed by black males. Even in dark corners of female psyche (masochism, sex fantasies of submission etc.) they didn’t see anything black. In the darkest corners, for them it was not dissimilar from bestiality & coprophilia.

    In short, they saw blacks as radically “other” and “going black ways” would necessarily entail self-destruction of white race. They could not even imagine Summer of Love, nor real interracial marriages (not just with blacks), because they found it repugnant at gut level. Nor could they possibly imagine that white females- not just nutjobs- would voluntarily screw black NBA or NFL players. That was, for them, absolutely inconceivable.

    • Replies: @Pheasant
  54. Jack D says:
    @El Dato

    The “years later” part always happens after the woman has hit the proverbial Wall. One of the magazines gathered all of the Cosby accusers into one photo and they were the saddest looking bunch of post-Wall females that you have ever seen.

    As long as she has sexual currency in the bank, the adventuress is able to use it to obtain actual currency or whatever benefits come from associating with rich and powerful men. Young women are uniquely possessed of this ability in relation to heterosexual men. A (straight) rich or famous author or actor or captain of industry is not going to wine and dine and lavish his attention and gifts on a young man or an older woman or anyone else, but he will do so with the most empty headed young female as long as she is attractive looking and willing to offer sexual favors. The shrewd investress uses this currency to permanently snag a wealthy man, or at least a marriage certificate which can later be traded for half of the man’s assets.

    But as sexual currency balance of the foolish adventuress approaches zero and she has nothing permanent to show for it, suddenly she realizes that she has been “exploited” and that is was wrong for her to have spent it in this way.

    • Replies: @Zoos
    , @Paleo Liberal
  55. El Dato says:

    Semi-on-topic:

    Al Stankard writes about his new career ghostwriting academic drivel for rich kids too busy to put in the work and about his problems with the oligarchs’ SA known as “Antifa”

    Barred from employment for my alt-right views aimed AT the rich, I’m now ghostwriting college papers for THEIR kids. What an irony

    Although my views on ‘sex work’ are mostly negative, I nevertheless find a kindred spirit in April Adams because I, too, have been forced by circumstance to make a living in a way that many presume to be dirty, if not illegal. Where April whores her body, I whore my mind. I write college papers for rich kids as an ‘academic freelance ghostwriter.’ I started out a decade ago on a shady Ukrainian website, though have long since carved out an independent reputation for myself to the extent that I offer multi-year, white-glove ghostwriting services to students at America’s most prestigious institutions. Remember that bleeding-heart movement against test-taking? It’s about making things easier for those who already command enormous social advantages and financial resources, yet who can’t be bothered to ace tests. ‘Social justice’ is just the front. In the age of lockdown-mandated remote learning, rich kids are leaping at my feet like salmon at the spawning. I do all the work, for a fee, and they walk away with a diploma.

  56. Jack D says:
    @yarro

    It’s hard for me to understand how you could love Bellow but not Roth. Their work has a lot of similarities. The Human Stain, which involves a professor who loses his job because he has called a couple of his n0-show students, “spooks” and they turn out to be black (“Does anyone know these people? Do they exist or are they spooks?”) has a ripped from the headlines quality although it was published 20 years ago.

    • Replies: @Abe
    , @Paperback Writer
  57. Anonymous[194] • Disclaimer says:

    Meanwhile, a robust Jew beating, and exhilarating chase (for the thugs, not so much the Jew) took place in front of the NY Public Library recently.

    NYC is not the place to be right now, for anybody. The city is beyond 1970’s scary. If a mob gets a bead on you, they chase and beat you for blocks, and the police will do little to stop them.

    • Replies: @anon
    , @El Dato
    , @El Dato
  58. @yarro

    Opinion of ignoramus–i’ve read all of one Updike (the middle aged wife swapping Rabbit) and zero Roth.

    My impression: Very much “place and time”. These guys are classic “Silent Generation” (pre-Boomer) types. And enscouned in “eastern establishment”.

    They lived through the War as kids, then came of age and into young adulthood in America’s burgeoning new post-War prosperity. So they were perfectly positioned to observe, analyze, critique, mock it.

    Updike throws in the WASP decline of influence/purpose. Roth the whole outsider Jew thing, and the Jewish rise (and yet, of course, America still not living up to expectations).

    But … they never got to be the heroes. Just along for the great American ride–and its discontents.

  59. peterike says:

    John O’Hara was better than either Roth or Updike.

    Roth is promoted because of his Jewishness, as publishing and, more importantly, book reviewing is a Jewish game. Roth is similar to Lenny Bruce in this respect. Far less talented than the general “consensus,” but endlessly promoted because he’s needed to Épater la Goyim. After all, corroding Christian society is always Job 1.

    Though Roth’s usefulness is mostly over since his kind of perversity, shocking in its day, isn’t even as degenerate now as an episode of Sesame Street.

    • Agree: Ian Smith
    • LOL: Pheasant
    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  60. Zoos says:
    @Jack D

    As long as she has sexual currency in the bank, the adventuress is able to use it to obtain actual currency or whatever benefits come from associating with rich and powerful men. Young women are uniquely possessed of this ability in relation to heterosexual men. A (straight) rich or famous author or actor or captain of industry is not going to wine and dine and lavish his attention and gifts on a young man or an older woman or anyone else, but he will do so with the most empty headed young female as long as she is attractive looking and willing to offer sexual favors.

    Hmmmm…

  61. @Jack D

    It depends on whether the encounter was consensual. Many of the encounters alleged, esp. with Cosby and Weinstein and the lot, were not. Non-consensual have always been considered crimes by Western society, and for good reason.

    But I see your point.

    Consider the novel The Lover, made into a number of movies, most recently The Chinese Lover.

    The novel is about a 15 1/2 (somehow the half is a big deal) year old French girl who has an affair with an older, richer, Chinese man in colonial Indochina. Over the years there has been much pointless speculation as to whether the novel was autobiographical, or else the fantasy of the authoress. But the point was that is was see as romantic for a mid-teen girl to be with an older man. The opposite encounter would be the movie Indochine, which romanticizes an encounter between a wealthy Viet schoolgirl and an older French officer.

    In my middle aged years I noticed several 14-16 year old girls who would flirt with me sometimes to an extreme, even when my wife was nearby. They didn’t seem to care. Of course I did not risk divorce and prison. And I am fortunately too old for them these days.

    My conclusion is that many of the jail bait girls in some of these notorious encounters were very willing participants, and very likely the instigators. It wasn’t that long ago when girls that age were considered of marriagable age, and were considered responsible for their actions. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago when feminists were insisting the age of consent be lowered to 14, saying that empowered the teenage girls or something like that.

    I can never keep up. What is Girl Power today may be a Horrible Crime tomorrow.

    • Agree: Bardon Kaldian, El Dato
    • Replies: @JMcG
    , @plannumber9
    , @Jack D
  62. @Franz

    “Vietnam”

    Wars produce interesting literature. The Vietnam War produced at least two great works: Dispatches by Michael Herr, and the novel Dream Baby by Bruce McAlister.

  63. slumber_j says:
    @Anon

    Kill fees are common–or used to be common anyway?–for freelance magazine pieces. Same principle, basically.

  64. JMcG says:
    @Paleo Liberal

    I had the misfortune of once being seated at a dinner table with a man of around 50. As soon as he had a couple of drinks in him, he started to inform the table that his high school aged daughter had told him that her girlfriends considered him to be a rare example of a DILF. His poor wife had a quietly stricken look on her face for the rest of the evening. What he was, was a creep.

    • Replies: @Paleo Liberal
  65. Whiskey says: • Website

    Lets be honest. No one cares or reads either Updike or Roth. They’re boring. Now, the true giant of American post-war literary accomplishment is …

    Donald E. Westlake. The one and only.

    Hilariously, he created for NBC after getting cheated on his contract, the worst TV show ever made: Super Train. I kid you not.

    And he crossed the streams, having Dortmunder and his pals hilariously try to copy a Parker hard boiled crime novel as one of their heists.

    Only Stuart Kaminsky came close to Westlake’s brilliance.

    • Agree: Paleo Liberal
  66. SafeNow says:

    Carl Hubbell said: “Gehrig was great, of course. But when Gehrig was at bat, somehow it wasn’t the same as when DiMaggio came to the plate.”

    Who the greatest hitters are, to baseball fans, is not mainly determined by their statistical slash lines. The “greatest” is determined in the Carl Hubbell sense.

    By the way, Rabbit at Rest is the best post-war novel. Philip Roth is the best post-war novelist.

  67. Anonymous[217] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jonathan Mason

    I started Portnoy’s Complaint and gave it up after a chapter or two

    Did you now? 🤔

    • Replies: @El Dato
  68. @Jonathan Mason

    “his Oswald’s Tale”

    Norman Mailer’s Oswald-was-probably-a-lone-nut book. The lone nut theory is completely implausible and “silly” yet Mailer’s reportage remains compelling despite glossing over Oswald’s early contact with glorious occult weirdo David Ferrie and his USMC-CIA transition whilst stationed in Japan. It could be that Oswald’s Tale (1996) was a bit of ritual backtracking for the establishment priests after he left the JFK hit bit somewhat opaque in his magnificent Harlot’s Ghost (1991).

  69. Kylie says:
    @Simon

    “I tend to feel the same way about people who claim to love Henry James and William Faulkner. I can’t help suspecting their sincerity.”

    Suspect away! I not only love both H. James and Faulkner, I still read them. Ditto Conrad, who I consider to be the supreme stylist of the English language.

    “Such were the days, still, hot, heavy, disappearing one by one into the past, as if falling into an abyss for ever open in the wake of the ship, lonely under a wisp of smoke, held on her steadfast way black and smouldering in a luminous immensity, as if scorched by a flame flicked at her from a heaven without pity.

    The night descended on her like a benediction.”

  70. @Anonymous

    “handshake trains”

    While watching Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) on TCM last night I remembered meeting Diane Keaton in a producer’s office in the late 1990s. Just me and her drinking hot tea and not talking about business. We didn’t shake hands afterwards but I like to imagine I was one step away from Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, and Woody Allen. She was very smart and charming; just like in Woody’s 70s movies.

  71. @Paleo Liberal

    It has to do with both physical and mental readiness. The brain of an adolescent is still more of a work in progress than an adult brain. That’s why adults (of both sexes) are held to be more responsible for their behavior.
    Also, how much older do you mean? There really is something unwholesome about a person many years older (of either sex) messing intimately, physically, with a much younger person (of either sex). Still, if both are willing..I would say 15 at least..it’s got to be their business. Seriously though, a very young person coming on to much older adult is not normal. Girls who did that were a little — weird, troubled.
    I remember a Greek woman shuddering about the old tradition of setting up a 15 year old with a 40 year old man. She was Greek to the core but still seemed relieved that wasn’t done much any more. It’s not really healthy. So it’s good you restrained yourself. That said, there should be a statute of limitations on consensual sex, if that’s what it was. As for hitting the wall, it probably has more to do with smoldering resentments exploding, than mercenary motivation, or even regret for lost youth. Deep down she didn’t want that man behaving like that. Not really. It would have been better for both parties had they controlled themselves. It usually works that way. Nevertheless, there should be a statute of limitations.

  72. Ralph L says:
    @Franz

    I was about to say, what about Jim Webb’s first novel, and then I couldn’t remember its name.

  73. Ralph L says:
    @Steve Sailer

    The fame could be just as important to management. Butts in seats.

  74. Abe says:
    @Steve Sailer

    No, they peak in fame around 32-35, not in production. A lot of money got wasted in the early years of free agency on the assumption that MLB stars tend to peak around age 32-35.

    Speaking of which, Albert Pujols just got cut from the Angels, almost certainly signaling the end of his career. Rumors over his lying about his true age will surely come to the fore again (or is holding BIPOC’s to linear notions of time in sync with observable natural phenomena white supremacist now? Maybe Pujols turned “10” the moment his abuelita could afford new laces for his cleats, even though he had seen 14 cycles around the sun by then. Maybe the trauma of George Floyd both regressed every 20-something black girl in a major media newsroom 15 years backward, making them no longer accountable for their actions like full adults, AND simultaneously made them 30 years wiser than their true ages, at least when it comes to hectoring white people. It’s black girl magic, bigot! Thankfully Pujols himself seemed to be a Glen Beck-type conservative, so he probably himself does not buy into all of that).

    Anyway, his precipitous decline as a hitter upon his signing of that YUGE contract with the Angels seems to fully confirm that truism. And yet… the Cardinals have won 0 World Series since letting Pujols walk. With him they won 2 World Series, 3 Pennants, appeared in 4 (5?) NL Championsihp Series, and I think missed the playoffs in only 2 of his 11 years with the club. Post-Pujols, the Cardinals lost the World Series in 2013, and barely missed the World Series in 2012 after being up 3-1 on the Giants. I think it is very arguable they could have won another championship in at least one of those years if Pujols had still been with the club. Yeah, he would have been a big drag on the team the last several years, but at least fans could have still turned out for the kick of seeing him climb up the all-time home run leader list. As it was the team avoided a disastrous contract, sure, but got 10 mediocre years out of it during which they were mildly competitive and completely forgettable.

  75. Achilleus says:

    Here I was reading a fine post about authors and literature and culture and then baseballblahblahblah…..

    I nodded off during the Ted Williams story…

    • Agree: Carol
    • Replies: @Ed Case
  76. @El Dato

    Islam “right about women?” If so, it is also right about men. They can’t control themselves. They do not trust, and cannot be trusted.
    At its dawn, Islam was considered sex-egalitarian to the extent possible at the time. Mohammad’s wife, Khadije, owned a big trading company and he wouldn’t have gotten far without her. Islam’s version of Adam & Eve would not even annoy a feminist.

  77. @Kylie

    The real question is if they also claim to like Brussels sprouts.

  78. Abe says:

    Williams had extraordinarily high batting averages, hitting .406 in 1941 (the last .400 hitter) and .388 in 1957 at age 38. He also hit a lot of home runs (although playing in Fenway Park with its deep right field fence, missing about 4.5 seasons to being a fighter pilot in training in WWII and in combat, as John Glenn’s wingman, in Korea

    That Updike could muse in a melancholy vein over Williams’s “wasting” of 5 years fighting like a man for his country instead of playing a schoolyard game like a boy (and Updike wrote this at a time when the US was entering the most psychologically fraught, if not physically perilous, period of the Cold War, where losing in Vietnam and not losing in Korea were phenomena of big, even world-historical importance) tells you all you need to know about the infantilization of the American male.

    • Replies: @Curle
  79. Abe says:
    @Jack D

    The Human Stain, which involves a professor who loses his job because he has called a couple of his n0-show students, “spooks” and they turn out to be black (“Does anyone know these people? Do they exist or are they spooks?”) has a ripped from the headlines quality although it was published 20 years ago.

    The premise of HUMAN STAIN seemed so contrived and- honestly- stupid I immediately relegated it to the class of one of Roth’s lesser novels upon reading it around the time it came out. Sadly, the level of American culture has stooped to an even stupider level since, making the book amazingly prescient as you say.

    On a lighter note, Bailey’s biography dishes that Roth rode up in a limousine carrying flowers to Nicole Kidman’s suite during the shooting of HUMAIN STAIN, thinking he could get her to go out on a date. The [email protected] on that guy… 🙂

  80. Ian Smith says:
    @Franz

    Fields of Fire? The Things They Carried? In Pharoah’s Army? Matterhorn?

    • Replies: @Franz
  81. gc says:
    @RichardTaylor

    Twenty years ago it would have been me, as a hobby. So I read not just novels and short stories, but critics and essays about novels. Of course, I was not super exited all the time, but those hobbies are like that. I still try to read at least one classic novel in a year, which is a really low number, but nowadays there is just some many others things to do. People should care about cancel culture. Not everyone can just fish, hunt and listen “A Country Boy Can Survive.”

  82. Abe says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Now that Bailey has a best-seller, several women have come forward to announce that they had sex with their former eighth-grade English teacher, who had groomed them by assigning Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita to the class.

    This would be shocking, except that the accusers all admit the encounters were years later when they were adults.

    To show how much our culture has turned, remember the SHOWTIME series CALIFORNICATION starring David Duchovny? Duchovny plays a very Roth-seque novelist anti-hero (without the anti- , really) who unknowingly screws the 16 year old soon-to-be-stepdaughter of his ex-wife. While not endorsing the Duchovny character’s action per se, it is very much played for laughs and treated as an innocent mistake despite the potential nasty legal consequences. Indeed the fact that we are meant to be titilated and delighted by the whole situation, instead of sanctimoniously condemning it, is proven by the show’s somewhat gratuitous insertion of the actress playing the “16 year old” into sex scenes where her generous assets are on full and quite vivid display.

  83. Swamp Fox says:
    @Franz

    Going After Cacciato?

  84. SafeNow says:
    @Kylie

    “Conrad, who I consider to be the supreme stylist of the English language.”

    Yes. And ironically, Conrad was not fluent in English until his twenties. I think maybe this partly accounts for his unique and superb style. I liken it to the Star Trek episode in which there exists a parallel universe that is a sidestep apart from the universe they know, and things there are slightly different.

    • Replies: @Kylie
  85. Give me Patrick O’Brian and George MacDonald Fraser any day over Roth and Updike.

    • Agree: JMcG, Tex, p38ace
    • Replies: @Alden
  86. black sea says:
    @SunBakedSuburb

    When I was a teenager, ı read a book called 365 Days, written by a physician who worked with the seriously wounded soldiers who had been flown in from Vietnam. I haven’t read it since then, but remember it as having been quite good.

    Dispatches is the best book I’ve read about Vietnam.

  87. Curle says:
    @Abe

    “ tells you all you need to know about the infantilization of the American male.”

    Or that fighting for an Empire isn’t quite the same thing as fighting for one’s country whose fate was never in jeopardy.

  88. Tex says:
    @RichardTaylor

    I read The Coup when I was about 21. My only motive for doing so was that a black comedy (pardon the idiom) about Cold War politics in a fictional African country sounded rather entertaining. To each his own.

  89. Abe says:
    @SunBakedSuburb

    Fields of Fire? The Things They Carried? In Pharoah’s Army? Matterhorn

    A RUMOR OF WAR? (So early an example that the author ended his tour BEFORE the Tet Offensive).

  90. El Dato says:
    @Anonymous

    You missed the good part where he goes to Israel and his offer to perform cunnilingus on some random girl-in-uniform is rebuffed.

  91. pyrrhus says:
    @yarro

    Roth’s work is mostly just boring, while Updike’s is supercilious porn, but sometimes entertaining…

  92. BenjaminL says:

    Patricia Lockwood’s LRB attack on Updike is a good specimen of the feminist zeitgeist. She gives him his due, but ultimately it comes down to who-whom.

    https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v41/n19/patricia-lockwood/malfunctioning-sex-robot

    More basic question is: could a heterosexual male author even get published today without bending the knee? Interesting thoughts by Alex Perez, a based male author:

    https://im1776.com/2021/04/27/the-new-literary-bad-boys/

    For WASP culture before the fall, John P. Marquand is a good prequel to Updike:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2004/05/-martini-age-victorian/302954/

    I’m sure that slumberj and Old Palo Altan have some thoughts there.

    • Replies: @slumber_j
  93. like both but Updike is BY FAR the greater artist. The Coup is his masterpiece

  94. anon[137] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous

    There is always something particularly charming about some short girl screaming “Pussy!” at a man who is obviously taller than she is….while other men trot beside her. It’s one of the purer forms of “Let’s you and him fight!” in the modern lexicon. The fairer sex in action…lovely.

    Also the soyvoice at the very end of the vid in modified Antifa costume whining “stop TOUCHING me” to a cop, as the costume-tard tries to push his bike into the cop while moving forward. “Move back. MOVE BACK” is a lawful order, although if soyvoice was arrested he’d be back on the streets, with his bike, in an hour or two.

    There’s a shortage of street cops in NYC now and it is going to get worse.

  95. Huisache says:

    I read My Life as a Man when it came out and laughed all the way through. I also decided if a man that smart could waltz into such a nightmarish marriage then only the gods might guess how bad I might do. A great comic novel. I credit it with being one of the reasons I refrained from matrimony until I neared 70.

  96. Kylie says:
    @SafeNow

    “And ironically, Conrad was not fluent in English until his twenties. I think maybe this partly accounts for his unique and superb style.”

    IIrc, yes, he was first exposed to English in his late teens, when his uncle took him in after he was orphaned.

    His prose absolutely undoes me, every single time. Magisterial and haunting.

  97. Stan says:

    Roth and Updike are boomer literary icons that do not matter to younger generations. Van Morrison is a boomer rock icon that is relevant now. Check out one his latest songs They own the media.

  98. El Dato says:
    @Anonymous

    Let them eat crow!

    Also, Israel-firsters on a roll.

    Much more interesting: Ex-military doing a “Dear Macron” letter:

    ‘Dire situation’: Over 120 retired US generals sign letter slamming Biden govt, say nation in fight against ‘socialism & Marxism’

    It’s just one of those things and comes out an an unapproved time in any case. These are not the droids you are looking for.

    While the Pentagon has refused to comment on the letter, several prominent retired military personnel have weighed in on its political tone and timing.

    Among them was retired Admiral Mike Mullen, one-time chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said the letter was full of “right-wing Republican talking points” and that it “hurts the military and by extension it hurts the country.”

    “It’s out of cycle. Normally those kinds of things occur in an election,” said Mullen, who also told Politico that the missive featured only a handful of three-star generals and no four-star ones. “It’s not very senior… In our world it’s not very significant in terms of people.”

    I guess the FBI will be bashing in doors.

    • Replies: @Curle
  99. fnn says:
    @AndrewR

    Chomsky says Israel is a tool of US imperialism and rejects the idea that Israel (and presumably, Zionists who don’t hold an Israeli passport) dominates the US.

    • Replies: @El Dato
    , @Jon
  100. @JMcG

    I see.
    He should have just kept his mouth shut. The fewer who know, the better.

    My daughter and her best friend were friends with another girl back in middle school. My daughter’s best friend was divorced and spent time equally with both her parents. One time I was giving them all a ride and the third girl was going on about how hot the divorced father was. It clearly made the guy’s daughter extremely uncomfortable. That may have been a factor in ending the friendship, or it could have been the next year in HS they just went their separate ways.

    I am almost 100% certain the divorced guy would never have messed with a young friend of his daughter.

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
  101. prosa123 says:

    I’d say the most interesting book I’ve read in quite a while is Fifty Years a Hunter and Trapper by E.N. Woodcock. Originally published as a Dickens-esque series of periodical articles, it’s an account of the author’s work as a commercial hunter and trapper from about 1860 to 1910. He worked mostly in western Pennsylvania, which for much of that time was very remote and teeming with game and furbearers. It’s a glimpse into a way of life that’s almost completely vanished.
    Oh, it’s also free on Project Gutenberg.

  102. “In the coming digital dark age, it may be prudent to have some physical books stashed in your basement”

    No, you just have to avoid buying Kindles, which are the property of Amazon and can be cancelled at any time. Other ebook formats are much safer than print. When the Woke Guards show up, those “physical books stashed in your basement” will be easy to burn (F. 451) or be used as evidence.

    I’m reminded of W. Burroughs saying that dealing junk was much easier than dealing pot; for one thing, when the Feds bust in, you’re not trying to hide a bushel of alfalfa the size of a suitcase.

  103. El Dato says:
    @Anonymous

    And why is Cuomo still a thing?

    • Replies: @Pericles
  104. John O’Hara and James Gould Cozzens were better.

    • Agree: Pheasant
  105. martin_2 says:
    @Anonymous

    I don’t remember the whippets. I vaguely remember he kept racing pigeons. My favourite strip was when he was told by the doctor “The best thing you can do is stop smoking and stop drinking”. Andy replied “What’s the second best thing?”

  106. @Whiskey

    My all time favorite scene in a Westlake book was in one of his lesser works, The Ax.

    Not a funny scene, but very meaningful.

    The protagonist had become a serial killer as a way to eliminate competition for a job he wanted. At one point he gets a call that his son was arrested for burglary. The protagonist immediately rushes to his son’s room to remove and discard any evidence. It is interesting to see his wife’s reaction to her husband committing a crime to cover up his son’s crimes. She clearly admires him for doing whatever is necessary to protect the family.

    Around the time I read that book my wife and I were in dire financial straits. I did things that were 100% legal, but that some of my wife’s friends thought were sleazy and unethical to get back on track. It was clear that my wife admired what I did, and our marriage was much stronger afterwards.

    • Replies: @Alden
  107. Not good.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
    , @Pericles
  108. Jack D says:
    @Paleo Liberal

    It depends on whether the encounter was consensual.

    The meaning of “consensual” itself depends on sexual politics. Extreme feminists say that all (heterosexual) sex is rape and consent is NEVER possible. Even less extreme ones require that consent be verbally and repeatedly announced by the female at every stage even though this is not how actual humans conduct relationships. In many recent cases, even though consent was clearly given at the time, the woman who has second thoughts later says that her consent was not valid, because she had (voluntarily) consumed alcohol (sometimes even just one drink) or drugs or was “pressured” into consenting or because she was of a lower social rank than the man or because she consented to one type of act but not to a different one or a variety of other bogus reasons which twist the meaning of the word “consent” beyond all recognition.

    I recognize that having relations with a female who is unconscious because you have roofied her drink clearly crosses the line, but feminists are drawing the line at extremes much closer to the other end.

    • Agree: El Dato, Charon
    • Replies: @Pericles
  109. Franz says:
    @Ian Smith

    Fields of Fire? The Things They Carried? In Pharoah’s Army? Matterhorn?

    I am not implying there weren’t any.

    I think reception is what galls generations after WWII.

    Having read Paco’s Story long ago, I was curious at the time why it came to a paperback rack before I heard of it. I was fairly plugged into the news then, magazines and all. But that was the Reagan 80s and Americans couldn’t catch the difference between “putting Vietnam behind us” and “forgetting about it entirely”. So they did the latter.

    Compare to the forties: Norman Mailer and James Jones made the covers of literary magazines when their novels about WWII came out. Even Gore Vidal’s book Williwaw got him a photo write-up in Time Magazine.

    But the entire structure had changed from the Forties to the Seventies. As Howard Beale informed us in Network, less than 2 percent of the population read books. The whole culture of what young men experience in their nation’s wars was gone.

    The Vietnam war era produced good books, but none got as much press as, for instance, the latest feminist tract or the experiences of minorities because these books come with a built-in push from the grievance industry.

    As to the Vietnam books that did get out there. I was sort of curious that the ones I read match pretty well the ones listed by the Council on Foreign Relations on their website, below. I might not like the CFR but they have good taste in literature even if they missed a few:

    https://www.cfr.org/blog/ten-vietnam-war-novels-read

    • Agree: Ian Smith
    • Thanks: El Dato
  110. El Dato says:
    @fnn

    Sounds pretty reality-averse.

    I just noticed that Chomsky’s program on generative grammars has veered into unreality too, around ’93: Minimalist Program: Criticisms

  111. Alden says:
    @anon

    We have thousands of books scattered around 6 households. One treasure is a 1880s Encyclopedia. It has several
    Books with a complete home schooling curriculum up to geometry or second year high school. Including French German and Italian and all sorts of chemistry wood shop gardening
    sewing etc activities. Our children and their spouses want to preserve them.

    I’ve added as many anti communist books as I could find. Got rid of the pro communist and pro French Revolution books.

  112. @stillCARealist

    From Sammler, I remember- correctly?- three things:

    1. Sammler murdered a captured German soldier who begged for his life & later felt no remorse. For him, it was “healing”. Although not PC, I think that Bellow was perspicacious in this insight of the former victim’s psyche.

    2. a black guy showing publicly his dick to Sammler in, I think subway, as a sign of dominance. Later, an uninhabited Russian Jewish immigrant smashed black guy. A lesson- don’t mess with Russians who are not afraid of blacks, unlike Americans (never mind they’re both Jews)

    3. Sammler’s daughter who speaks Polish when she wants to emotionally manipulate her father & who would like to marry some brown Indian professor

    More or less good novel, but nothing spectacular. Frankly- I don’t know why I read it …..

    At the end, about novels: I would say that perhaps 80-90% of the greatest novels had been written in 100 years, from 1840 to 1940 (more or less). But, when one considers even great literatures’ great novels (English language, French language, Russian language, German Language, Spanish language, …) -it is evident that much of them are, at least partially, difficult to comprehend outside of a national culture (historical & cultural associations, ethics, taboos & sensibilities, manners, social structures,  ….).

    And modern man, I guess, doesn’t have patience to read too many footnotes.

  113. Alden says:
    @Paleo Liberal

    I think I read that one. Was that the story of a paper mill manager anticipating layoffs? So realizing he’d have to find a new job soon he made a list of paper mill managers and killed them.

    • Replies: @Paleo Liberal
  114. Barnard says:
    @Desiderius

    The putts were worse than the 8 iron rolling through the green. Stewart Cink is a good guy who ended up taking a significant amount of time off to care for his wife while she had breast cancer. He finally got his first win following the 2009 Open Championship late last year. Watson went on to be one of the worst Ryder Cup captains of all time. He handled the criticism so poorly many golf fans think it permanently tarnished his legacy.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  115. Swamp Fox says:
    @Franz

    “Dog Soldiers?”

    • Replies: @Franz
  116. @peterike

    Huh… there is no doubt that Jews are vastly over-represented among book reviewers, but I think that Updike, at least in print, corroded “Christian society” much more. Roth wrote, from what I hear from others, about US Jews as some kind of rather repellent potential psychos.

    Not the best way to “corrode a Christian society” ….

  117. @anon

    It’s hard to drive in a run from second base with a walk.

    • Replies: @anon
  118. … because I am at best a lazy admirer of Roth ….

    So, I take it you’re not doing a piece on Proust.

  119. Anon[170] • Disclaimer says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Swede was based on an actual guy. My in laws are from the same milieu as Roth and knew the guy Swede portrays, or knew of him.

  120. @SunBakedSuburb

    Wars produce interesting literature.

    It depends. WW1 & WW2 produced almost nothing permanent, with very few exceptions. Junger’s “Storm of Steel” immediately comes to mind. WW2 -no truly great novel.

    On the other hand, Napoleonic wars gave birth to many great novels.

  121. Many years ago I interviewed Updike. Did it a couple of times, in fact. I can’t recall what we talked about but what I can recall is the feeling that I was in the presence of a freak. Glittering words, sentences and paragraphs just rolled out of the man, with only the slightest prompting. How many people can do that? It reminded me in a way of what a freakish thing a great singing voice is. I can barely get my voice in the neighborhood of the correct note; meanwhile really gifted singers are dancing off of precisely-intoned sixteenth notes. Same with Updike: intricate sentences, jewel-like word choices … All of it improvised in real time. My yaks with him also left me thinking that my main reservation about his work — that his verbal gift was too easy and facile, and that for all the verbal dazzle he often failed to really engage with his subject matter — was correct. Too many of the books of his that I read were like a lot of high-end embroidery lavished over a banal framework. I did like his short stories and art criticism a lot, though.

    Never interviewed Roth, but I enjoyed “Portnoy’s Complaint” (it’s a standup comedy routine) and “Goodbye, Columbus.” His later work left me completely cold, but I had brainy Jewish friends who were beyond-happy whenever a new Roth would come out.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Tina Trent
  122. @JohnnyWalker123

    Utter BS … they just don’t want to go back to the office full time.

    BTW, if a GMO mouse or corned can be patentedand owned, who’s to say those people getting the vaxx aren’t also owned by Big Pharma companies? (Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 569 U.S. 576 (2013))

    In the same way that there are no longer God-given rights, we no longer own our bodies; we merely take them on licence from our Lords and Masters.

  123. Art Deco says:
    @Anonymous

    I recall many a strip simply consisting of several frames of Andy Capp, his fist, and his wife Flo’s face, connecting, and Flo lying flat out on the floor, concussed. Oh, and he was always dodging the rent collector and comically stealing ‘beer money’ from his wife’s handbag.

    Disagree. The strips had fight scenes in them, usually depicted in the panel as a cloud with a hand and a foot of each party visible outside the cloud. If anyone was landing on the floor at the end, it was him. Flo was also depicted brandishing a rolling pin.

    • Agree: Johann Ricke
  124. Art Deco says:

    The lone nut theory is completely implausible and “silly”

    It’s the only model on the table and it’s supported by actual evidence. The lot of you have had 57 years to develop an alternative model, and you keep failing at it.

    • Agree: Alden, David In TN
    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
  125. Smart, funny and original piece from Steve, btw.

  126. Steve failed to mention my favorite Roth novel, “Operation Shylock,” (1993) in Takimag.

    In the satire, the main character, an alternate Philip Roth, praises “diasporist” Irving Berlin.

    Alt Roth says: “The radio was playing “Easter Parade” and I thought, but this is a Jewish genius on a par with the Ten Commandments. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and then He gave Irving Berlin ‘Easter Parade” and “White Christmas’… And what does Irving Berlin brilliantly do? He de-Christs them both! Easter he turns into a fashion show and Christmas into a holiday about snow.”

    Berlin triumphed by secularizing Christendom’s cherished holidays. Roth triumphed by delivering his incident with wry humor.

  127. Rob McX says:
    @Bill B.

    What’s the digital version of Fahrenheit 451? Sooner or later some hacker will create a bug that tracks unwoke literature and destroys it. Keep your EPUB ad PDF files on an offline device.

  128. slumber_j says:
    @BenjaminL

    For WASP culture before the fall, John P. Marquand is a good prequel to Updike

    Then there’s always Louis Auchincloss, with whom I once rode an elevator down from a Manhattan gathering at the immense 120 East End duplex of a cousin of his and family friend of mine. He was quite old by then but radiated sharpness and good cheer. I couldn’t summon the will to greet him, so we descended in silence. Anyway, he’s very good on all that stuff.

    Being in his presence reminded me of the day years before when I’d met some niece of his or whatever she was to him, who was about my age. This was in Dublin, NH, where I was spending the weekend with a friend from college. As Miss Auchincloss approached the house from her car, she was walking past these enormous rhododendrons which were blooming their heads off. “Bitchin’ rhodos,” she said, which seemed to me about the preppiest thing ever uttered.

  129. Franz says:
    @Swamp Fox

    SW —

    There were multiple replies and I answered from the veteran point of view on this thread, 109 above.

    Main point was the indifference of the reception Vietnam Veterans got compared to what the WWII vets got. But the guys I knew really WERE told there was no audience for very many Vietnam books, and I though it was pretty shabby at the time. Agents just wouldn’t handle them for the most part.

  130. Jon says:
    @fnn

    I’ve never understood how a couple of linguists (Chomsky and Pinkner) could come to be considered the greates public intellectuals of our time. And yes, I get that they’re both jewish, but there are plenty of jews in more serious and more relevant disciplines than linguistics.

  131. Kurt Vonnegut was better than these two guys!

  132. @Art Deco

    Mailer’s book all made perfect sense to me.

    Oswald was a misfit who emigrated to Russia and was given a job in a transistor radio factory.

    But in Russia he was also a misfit who was a very poor worker.

    Eventually he got sick of his life in Russia so he returned to the United States with his Russian wife.

    But he soon got to satisfied with his life in the United States again and wanted to return to Russia, but they wouldn’t give him a visa.

    He then tried to get on the good side of the Cuban government, hoping that he could somehow earn his passage to Russia.

    In a deeply disturbed state of mind, he took advantage of the location where he worked to take a pot shot at Kennedy, and got lucky.

    Then he was killed by Jack Ruby.

    It is probably 30 or 40 year since I read Mailer’s book, so pardon any lapses of memory, but it all seemed very plausible to me at the time and was backed with a lot of detailed research, not just conspiracy theory hoodoo.

    I was only 12 when Kennedy was shot, but I remember that evening was very windy and unseasonably warm in northern England. A good night for listening to the transistor radio indoors under the bedclothes. Mine was made in Japan.

  133. Corvinus says:
    @Steve Sailer

    https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/9933/how-do-baseball-players-age-investigating-the-age-27-theory/

    The essay is most frequently referenced as a successful challenge the conventional wisdom that baseball players peak between 28 and 32, with James bluntly stating, “that one truism is blatantly false.” James used his “Value Approximation Method” (VAM) to measure player performance by aggregating individual VAM ratings of players by age. He found that the player-age of 27 had the highest total performance of any other age and concluded, “If you must assign a five-year peak period to all players regardless of description, the best shot would be 25 to 29.”

    But in hindsight, the evidence for this was actually quite weak. James would eventually abandon VAM because it was, in his own words, “ultimately undermined by the lack of logic behind it” (NBJHA, p. 338). Also, aggregating performance into age buckets is biased by the fact that many players play baseball in their mid-twenties before they wash out-these buckets are full because of the number of people at this age who play, not because they are so good.

    But even while taking the popular notion to task, James was quick to note that current studies of aging, including his own, suffered from a unique problem. When players are deemed to fall below major-league quality, they stop playing; therefore, we can’t measure how their performance changes. He referred to this unobserved hypothetical performance as “white space.” When we look at players who do play to measure aging, we have to keep this selection bias in mind.

  134. I’ve read a lot of Updike and skimmed most of Roth.
    Underestimated Updike: The Terrorist and Seek My Face. Seek my Face is about getting old in a remote place and – about the art world: Abstract Expressionism is especially seen in the rear mirror through the eyes of a female artist who had been personally (intimately) related to the inner circle of the Abstract Expressionists. I love this book, not least, because it comes as a dialog between a young blogger and an old artist.
    Three Updikes I’ve read two times: Seek my Face, Terrorist, and Rabbit at Rest – very delicate everyday scenes like bringing a family member to the airport, etc. – pinned down in perfect prose.
    The Roth scenes I – love – are the ones about the narrator’s Latino girlfriend Consuela in The dying Animal, and about his butcher-dad in Intimidation. Very straightforward and awe-inspiring in it’s detail.

    The Swiss politician Alain Pichard from Biel/Bienne did publish a portrait of his butcher a few years ago and I couldn’t help but hear the echo of Roth’s novel in that portrait (and it might be really that). Pichard’s text was also great. Btw.: In Pichard’s vein is David Goodhart’s actual book Head Hand Heart – The Struggle for dignity in the 21st century. I hope to read it soon.

    Helen Dale has already written a sort of a review of Goodhart’s Head Hand Heart-book by referring not least to The Bell Curve, pointing out, that Goodhart has finally gotten around to acknowledge that yes: The Bell Curve is a work of true humanism.

    https://lawliberty.org/the-coming-war-over-intelligence/

    – When Thilo Sarrazin did quote The Bell Curve in his bestseller Germany Does Away with Itself, Goodhart did criticize Sarrazin for doing so, because he felt that that would degrade Sarrazin’s work. so – Goodhart is a Marxist, that did learn to – somehow unlearn where he came from.

  135. @Bardon Kaldian

    There’s also “All Quiet on the Western Front.”

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  136. Jack D says:
    @Paleo Retiree

    When Roth is good he is very good and when he is bad he is very bad. He wrote dozens of novels over his long career so there were bound to be some turkeys. Indignation left me cold although it actually contains autobiographical elements. The Humbling was a complete dud. I was wild about all of his Zuckerman novels.

    American Pastoral was fantastic. Just his impeccably researched descriptions of the lost American glove industry alone were worth the Pulitzer but of course the book was much much more. All traces of this industry are so lost (outside the pages of this book, where he brings them back to life for a moment) that he might as well have been describing Pompeii instead of a way of life (not just a business – an entire American city was once so dedicated to this craft that the town was named for it) that existed in living memory. It stands in for all of the lost American industries – we were once a country that made things – fine quality things and yet on an industrial scale. Every conceivable thing from paper clips to steam shovels – nothing was too big or too small for us to make it. Now we make accusations against each other and shuffle words around, not even on paper but as little electronic flickers that are as durable as camera flash bulbs. Where did we go wrong?

    • Agree: Abe
    • Replies: @Peterike
  137. 03241 says:

    Steve,

    You might be interested in a new book coming out soon by Joshua Cohen, “The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family”. I quite liked his “Book of Numbers”, and Harold Bloom was a big fan. From an interview:

    ( https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/stories-as-prayer-a-conversation-between-joshua-cohen-and-harold-bloom/ )

    “And what about the literature of American Jews?

    Call It Sleep by Henry Roth, Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West, Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth, and quite possibly your Book of Numbers are the four best books by Jewish writers in America. Your Moving Kings is a strong and rather hurtful book, but that helps validate it. Book of Numbers, however, is shatteringly powerful. I cannot think of anything by anyone in your generation that is so frighteningly relevant and composed with such continuous eloquence. There are moments in it that seem to transcend our impasse.”

    I don’t think there’s any living fiction writer who’s better than Joshua Cohen, though that’s really not saying much, and in general I think the novel is basically dead as a literary medium.

  138. @Simon

    “I tend to feel the same way about people who claim to love Henry James and William Faulkner. I can’t help suspecting their sincerity.”

    RichardTaylor’s namesake, the late Prof. Richard Taylor, in his book Good and Evil, has a rather more vicious rejoinder:

    “If anyone told me that they actually tried to live their life by Kant’s Categorical Imperative, I would regard them with the same horror as I would if they had confessed to habitually drowning small children, just to watch them squirm.” [From memory]

  139. @Bardon Kaldian

    You could add Gore Vidal to that list, and perhaps Tom Wolfe. Vidal would not, I think, mind the company. Wolfe always seemed to want to start a new school, like Flaubert or Hemingway.

  140. Alden says:
    @Whiskey

    I’ve read some Westlake books. Love them.

  141. AceDeuce says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Ted Williams hit .388 in 1957, the year that he turned 39. A few hits away from .400.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  142. anon[421] • Disclaimer says:

    Best for me: high up in bleachers, uncovered stadium, 6 beers, 4 dogs, couple bags peanuts/9 innings.

    Don’t care for either author.

    Shakespeare and several Russian writers make books worthwhile.

  143. AceDeuce says:
    @John Up North

    And “Goodbye to All That”.

    And the criminally forgotten “Company K” by the novelist William March, a Marine veteran of WW1, a decorated combat hero, who later wrote the book “The Bad Seed”.

    As far as WW2, “From Here to Eternity” was pretty decent, as was “The Caine Mutiny”

    • Replies: @JMcG
    , @John Up North
  144. AceDeuce says:
    @Franz

    Dispatches, Fields of Fire , Gus Hasford’s The Short Timers (that and Dispatches were the main inspiration for Full Metal Jacket).

    • Replies: @Franz
    , @J.Ross
  145. The second, actress Claire Bloom, even wrote a best-seller about a what a rotten guy he was. (One of her more memorable complaints was that despite his bad-boy reputation, Roth was a workaholic bore: He wrote his books for eight hours straight every day and then he read serious literature for four hours every evening.)

    It would not surprise me if most high-achieving white men are “workaholic bores”, at least during their productive years. I expect that, for example, Bill Gates spends 12 hours a day working on spending his money to save lives. This does not make for a happy marriage.

    When women and minorities want to improve the “diversity” of an ostensibly desirable occupation, they may not realise that the successful white men they want to replace are happy with lives that most people would regard as one-dimensional.

    • Replies: @Peter D. Bredon
    , @AceDeuce
  146. JimDandy says:
    @RichardTaylor

    Yeah, I tend to agree, but Portnoy’s Complaint was/is read by popular audience. I’m not a huge Roth fan, but “tour de force” was a deserved accolade for that particular book.

  147. Alden says:
    @let's be careful out there

    I be read the whole Flashman series by Frazier. Love them. Never heard of O’Brian. Another good book is Gingerbread Man. My favorite 20 th century author is Evelyn Waugh. Scott King’s Modern Europe is a favorite. Came out after WW2 when all the intellectuals thought the soviet occupation of Central Europe was so wonderful. Basil Seal Does His Bit Waugh’s favorite no goodnik in wartime England.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
  148. @AceDeuce

    Williams didn’t get many infield singles when he hit .388 in 1957. Five more and he would have hit .400.

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  149. I have never read anything by either author. Roth struck me as whiny and I have no opinion of Updike.

    What two books would change my mind?

    • Replies: @Simon
  150. Rob says:

    I apologize if someone already posted this. Never having read Roth or Updike, this is most I can contribute.

    • LOL: vhrm
  151. Curle says:
    @El Dato

    Think he’s ever uttered the words Left-wing Democrat?

  152. Anon[209] • Disclaimer says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Bonds was a hof caliber player before steroids and McGwire was a very good player. But it’s not right to bring up their mid 30’s hr production without bringing up steroids. Without steroids they’re not producing like that at those ages.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  153. @Anon

    At the age of 39, Barry Bonds struck out only 41 times and walked 232 times. Were the PEDs making his eyesight better?

  154. Curle says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    I dunno, I view Camus’ works, not novels mind you, as unimaginable without WW2 and essentially commentary on that war. Same with On the Road by Kerouac. That ex soldiers removed themselves to small Mexican towns like St Miguel d’Allende to drink the remainder of their lives away says a lot about WW2. Vonnegut’s work seems to be about WW2.

    That Gatsby was as nihilistic as he was speaks volumes about WW1.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  155. @James N. Kennett

    I though C. Bloom was supposed to be a fancy-schmancy “actress”; shouldn’t she have been “working” all day, reading scripts, memorizing parts, using emotional memory to discover her motivation?

    Sounds like she was spending most of her time shopping or watching TV from the couch, whining about being ignored. So much for all that “hard work” our glamorous stars put in.

    Or maybe it was more like Jack and Shelly at the Overlook Hotel.

  156. Curle says:
    @Kylie

    I’m with you. People who don’t like Faulkner simply can’t conceive of the South as it was and, in some ways, remains.

    • Replies: @Peter D. Bredon
  157. Ian M. says:
    @Simon

    I tend to feel the same way about people who claim to love Henry James and William Faulkner. I can’t help suspecting their sincerity.

    Well, I like James, or at least the two novels of his I’ve read. The Bostonians is a fantastic send-up of early feminism and is an entertaining story to boot. Here is one of my favorite passages, spoken by the protagonist, Basil Ransom:

    The whole generation is womanised; … it’s a feminine, a nervous, hysterical, chattering, canting age, an age of hollow phrases and false delicacy and exaggerated solicitudes and coddled sensibilities, which… will usher in the reign of mediocrity, of the feeblest and flattest and the most pretentious that has ever been. The masculine character, the ability to dare and to endure, to know and yet not fear reality, to look the world in the face and take it for what it is… that is what I want to preserve or rather… to recover; and I must tell you that I don’t in the least care what becomes of you ladies while I make the attempt.

    And here is James’s description of the feminist Oliver Chancellor:

    There are women who are unmarried by accident, and others who are unmarried by option; but Olive Chancellor was unmarried by every implication of her being. She was a spinster as Shelley was a lyric poet, or as the month of August is sultry.

    The American by James was also entertaining, but not as memorable.

  158. Ian M. says:

    Four most dominant hitters of all time:

    Cobb, Ruth, Williams, Bonds.

    Ruth hit more 500 foot home runs than anyone else in history, and by a large margin.

  159. @Jack D

    It’s hard for me to understand how you could love Bellow but not Roth.

    Have you ever actually read either?

  160. @Bardon Kaldian

    . WW2 -no truly great novel.

    Jesus.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  161. Hhsiii says:

    Roth’s Defender of the Faith is a damn good short story. I love that he sends the schtarker/schnorrer off to fight in the Pacific. Likely saved by the bomb.

  162. Ian M. says:

    The statistic of what is now called on-base percentage had been introduced in 1954 in a Life article by Branch Rickey and Alan Roth. But it took a long time for the old prejudice against walks as merely an error by the pitcher rather than an accomplishment by the batter to decline.

    When I was growing up, a common saying in little league ball was “A walk is as good as a hit!”. This was before the SABR revolution, and my sense is that it had been in use for some time (usually being said by the boomer-age coach or parent). I always thought it was BS though, as a hit is always equal to or better than a walk. (Well, I guess a walk rises in value when you consider things like wearing a pitcher out, or the fact that walks tend to be more demoralizing to the defense than hits are, but I don’t think that’s what little league coaches had in mind).

    I guess the point was probably to keep kids from swinging at everything though.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  163. @Whiskey

    He, like Updike, also has an Africa novel, the hilarious “Kahawa”. It is set in His Excellency al-Haji etc. Idi Amin’s Uganda. His Daily Galaxy series “Trust Me on This” et al is also great. A real master of the comic novel.

  164. Keypusher says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Ruth’s best years overall were ‘20-‘21 and ‘23, right around when he was 27. Bonds and McGwire were on ‘roids. When he hit 47 Aaron was finally playing in a hitters’ park and he was past the 1968 hitting trough. His best years were in his late 20s.

    There’s so much information available now, and yet everything you post about baseball is wrong. It’s uncanny. And you criticizing Bill James…it’s like my high school science teacher criticizing Einstein. Aren’t you ever ashamed of yourself?

  165. I read both at Sheepdip U. Roth I expected to be degenerate; he’s a Jew. Updike was a real creep. Both novelists were made famous by publicity and reviews, both meant to coarsen and demolish American society.

  166. Franz says:
    @AceDeuce

    Post #109, this thread.

  167. Simon says:
    @Kylie

    “Such were the days, still, hot, heavy, disappearing one by one into the past, as if falling into an abyss for ever open in the wake of the ship, lonely under a wisp of smoke, held on her steadfast way black and smouldering in a luminous immensity, as if scorched by a flame flicked at her from a heaven without pity.”

    Jumping Jehoshaphat! Kylie, I know it’s absurd to argue over matters of taste, but that quote — which I see is from Lord Jim (thank you, Google) — has me throwing up my hands and saying, “I rest my case.”

    Listen, I was an English major. I taught English. I genuinely love Heart of Darkness. Though I prefer Orwell and Updike, I think I’m still capable of appreciating a few canonical writers of the past. But that passage — which I assume you’ve chosen to offer us as an example of Conrad at his best — strikes me as purple to the point of self-parody. Honestly, if that represents good prose, then there’s no such thing as overwriting.

    But I do admire you for putting it out there.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Kylie
    , @Kylie
  168. Mike Tre says:
    @Steve Sailer

    “At the age of 39, Barry Bonds struck out only 41 times and walked 232 times. Were the PEDs making his eyesight better?”

    No, but they probably induced pitchers to pitch away from him more often.

    But your point is valid: Steroids do not improve eyesight, hand/eye coordination, batting mechanics, pitch selection.

    And the question has been asked: Why are steroids considered cheating but having your eyesight corrected to 20/15 (as Tiger Woods did) not?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  169. @Curle

    “People who don’t like Faulkner simply can’t conceive of the South as it was and, in some ways, remains.”

    Bloated and incoherent, unreadable, a lapdog for Yankee “innerlekshuls” (Marion Montgomery)?

    • Replies: @Curle
  170. Simon says:
    @Jim Don Bob

    You might try Rabbit, Run, the first of the Rabbit books. You may not like it, but at least it’s pretty thin.

    • Replies: @Shetland
    , @Ralph L
  171. AceDeuce says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Exactly–he was never blazing fast on the bases as a youngster, but had slowed down considerably by 1957 due to age and injuries. He had some high mileage on him for sure, although he always stayed in very good condition.

  172. Nathan says:

    “McCarthy’s a prude. He’s no Updike. I like those John Updike Women. Those middle age tan gals.”

    -Norm MacDonald, the greatest living comedian.

  173. @Mike Tre

    Some people do think the HGH, which seems to make skulls grow or at least change shape, can improve eyesight, although I have no idea how that would work.

    • Replies: @Danindc
  174. AceDeuce says:
    @James N. Kennett

    At least White Men do useful, or at least harmless things–negroes and women are totally shallow–they hardly have rich inner lives, which is why the former are drunk and stoned all the time, and the latter are on all kinds of anxiety/depression meds besides lots of substance abuse. And are still miserable as hell. Vocally. Loudly vocally.

    (Another plus for YT men –unlike them, White Men usually STFU about their unhappiness–well, until the millennials came on the scene.)

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  175. @Simon

    I was impressed by Conrad’s “Lord Jim” in high school, but I thought the prose style of his more famous “Heart of Darkness,” which uses the same narrator, Marlowe, was bad.

    But then again, he wasn’t a native English speaker, and my prose style in Polish …

    • Agree: JimDandy
  176. @Ian M.

    My son’s team around age 10 won a lot because the coach ordered the kids to never swing (except the best hitter). This routinely reduced 10-year-old opposing pitchers to tears as they walked 7 in a row.

    The dads got together and voted not to let that coach back in the league next year.

  177. Tina Trent says: • Website
    @yarro

    Bellow and Wolfe are great gifts indeed. I never warmed to Roth’s increasingly shrill self-pity and anti-shiksa schtick.

    But Updike — there was the American man. The Rabbit series alone captured America across four decades. His passages as Rabbit contemplates Reagan probably cost him the Nobel, but so what? He wrote hundreds of the best literary essays of the century, and he could write about any subject. Fonts were just one of many passions. And he was critical of licentiousness and its discontents—he understood the dangers ahead for young women cut loose from traditional roles, of men unspooled from family life, of an America losing its strength and collective mind. He observed, not advocated, but man, was he evocative about the freckle on a woman’s back.

    When I think of Bellow, Wolfe, Updike, compared with what we have now, it’s hard to not weep.

  178. Peterike says:
    @Jack D

    “ Now we make accusations against each other and shuffle words around, not even on paper but as little electronic flickers that are as durable as camera flash bulbs. Where did we go wrong?”

    Ask Roth’s co-ethnics. They had a little bit to do with that.

  179. JMcG says:
    @AceDeuce

    Her Soldiers We aka The Middle Parts of Fortune was very good. Hemingway thought it the best book of the Great War.

    • Thanks: AceDeuce
    • Replies: @John Up North
  180. @Paleo Liberal

    My daughter’s best friend was divorced and spent time equally with both her parents.

    Is there a ” ‘s parents ” missing in this sentence?

  181. Peterike says:
    @Steve Sailer

    “ Were the PEDs making his eyesight better?”

    They may improve your reaction time, which is just as good.

  182. Tina Trent says: • Website
    @Known Fact

    Cheever drank himself to early incontinence. Updike and Roth and Bellow were the rare writers who weren’t soused. I once had to drive the great Socialist Queen Margaret Atwood to an airport and she bitched endlessly about how crappy my car was. I was an impoverished student, obviously not good enough for the transporting of the rich socialist milieu.

    Another famously not-soused author was John D. Macdonald. When he lived on Longboat Key, the other writers there would struggle a few hours then hoist a flag indicating noon debauchery. He kept writing. John Irving too was a serious writer. Also Ford. Also John O’Hara, though he definitely had his spirits struggles.

    Falconer sure was deeply weird. Thank you for the suggestions. In the Beauty of the Lilies is a fine Updike book about aging and the 20th Century. The Rabbit series is the finest accomplishment in modern American literature, is my personal view. James Dickey’s poetry merits more attention. I once refused to have dinner with Updike because so many similar encounters went badly, and I literally cared too much to meet him. Now I regret it. He sent me a lovely note thanking me for my gratitude for his work. Who does that?

    • Replies: @Known Fact
  183. @Steve Sailer

    I recall running into teams that played like that when I was a kid. I attribute much of my own almost-imperceptibly-upsloping ascent into a mediocre high school pitcher to my ability to throw lots and lots of mediocre strikes, starting when I was still in elementary school. The truth is, most kids are terrible hitters, and will regularly make outs if regularly confronted by baseballs passing through the strike zone.

  184. Tina Trent says: • Website
    @Paleo Retiree

    As a woman who encountered far too much of the screw-the-shiksa, Goodbye Columbus self-pity in high school, I still won’t deny Roth’s talent, but his take on Leo Frank was a bridge too far. Mary Phagan was a real person, a 14–year old impoverished factory worker raped and murdered in Frank’s factory. We’ll never know if Frank, or the black janitor Conley, or both did the deed, but for Roth, the mere existence of Mary Pagan justified her killing. In his novel of the case, he describes the dead, malnourished child laborer merely as a “sickening gynecological smell.”

    I don’t choose to read this sort of garbage person, prose style or no prose style.

    • Agree: Charon, AceDeuce
    • Thanks: JMcG
    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Alden
    , @Pheasant
  185. So, the value of power was well accepted long before Bill James, but the value of not making an out because you got walked to first was still hazy in the minds of even the cleverest baseball fans such as John Updike.

    Yes, good analysis here.

    An analog from basketball is interpreting the true value of three-point shots, and hence players who are good at shooting from distance.

    The numbers are pretty uncomplicated. I recall that way back before the three point line, anybody in college or NBA hoops who shot 50% from the field was hailed as a ‘good shooter’. When the three pointer was introduced, it should have quickly followed that anybody who could shoot 33% from deep was also a ‘good shooter’, because they were providing equal value. And there were obviously players around — like Larry Bird — who could and did make three pointers regularly.

    But somehow the value of the three pointer didn’t really sink in. I’m not sure exactly what the reasoning was — maybe coaches and GMs simply assumed that there couldn’t be that many players out there who could be expected to make 33% or better from three like ‘outliers’ such as Bird did. The NBA had to suffer through the horrible Knicks-n-Pistons-dominated bully ball era before it started to dawn on teams that they could play differently, and that there were in fact lots of players who could learn to shoot three pointers effectively. And now basketball at all levels looks very different indeed.

  186. Curle says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    I found Month of Sunday’s fascinating. A lazy son of a true believing preacher himself becomes a preacher b/c he learns he can become sufficiently proficient in theology by mastering the work of one theologian to have a low stress career in that field. His real interest in life is boffing girls and he proceeds to pursue that course till he runs aground.

    Updike’s description of his character’s all too conscious pursuit of the ‘easy fun gig’ contrasted to his father’s unrewarded sincerity in his profession was moving and seemed a character template for our times. Paul Ryan, I’m thinking of you.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  187. anon[254] • Disclaimer says:
    @james wilson

    True. Singles are obviously better when there’s a man on third, second, or second and third.

    But (a guesstimate) that probably is the situation when a batter steps in to hit maybe 25% to 33% of the time .

    So you would have to adjust your statistic so singles are a little bit more valuable, but not the total ignoring of walks that used to be the case before the baseball nerd stat revolution.

    (I grew up in the pre-baseball stats revolution era so I still naturally am drawn to batting average as the best gauge of how good a hitter is. In the 70’s and 80’s, guys who hit over .300 were regarded as good hitters and .260 was in for their defense. So I still have trouble processing that the best hitters on the team I follow can have averages now at .250 etc. if their OPS is high.)

  188. Curle says:
    @Peter D. Bredon

    Marion Montgomery born in Thomaston, GA? Georgia is part of the North?

  189. Shetland says:
    @Simon

    Good choice. My recommendation would have to be Rabbit is Rich. Updike was really at his peak IME

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  190. @whahae

    You forgot to provide a link. There’s more than one “LibGen” site, and most are not usable. (My understanding is that the KK–Kopyright Kops–are always hunting for them.)

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  191. Yngvar says:
    @Kylie

    A novel without as if’s would be noticeable shorter, like a Louis XVI at the end of everything.

    • LOL: Kylie
  192. Ralph L says:
    @Simon

    Like Lord Jim, Rabbit, Run was another book ruined for me by being required in HS.

    For fine Edwardian prose, give me Saki and Father Brown. Many authors (Faulkner, Joyce, Wharton for three) are better read in short stories because they have to rein it in a bit.

    • Agree: sayless
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  193. @Alden

    The first book in the Flashman Papers series was great, as Scottish journo George MacDonald Fraser developed the character of school bully Harry Flashman, last seen being expelled from Rugby School in Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1859) as he joins the military and in no time becomes the sole survivor of the flight from Kabul to make it through the Khyber Pass and become a popular Victorian national hero, although, as he readily admits, he is a actually a serial liar, coward, and cheat.

    In the subsequent books of the series Flashman’s adventures become increasingly Forrest Gump-like as he visits every hotspot in the British empire during the nineteenth century, not to mention turning up at Harper’s Ferry and the Little Big Horn just in time to amuse American readers.

    Of particular note is Flashman’s amazing facility with languages, in which he is only bettered, to my knowledge, by his vetinerary compatriot Dr. Dolittle, enabling him to show up in China for the opium wars speaking fluent Chinese, not to mention quickly mastering a number of native American dialects in the US, as well as the tongues of places like Madagascar and Afghanistan.

    The books are a good light read and a way to learn some history, but the first book is the best, and the later books in the series become increasingly ragged and ridiculous.

    Apparently a few US reviewers of the first book initially thought that it was a genuine memoir, but I can only assume that they only read the publisher’s blurb on the cover and did not open the book. Fair enough. In most cases you can judge a book by its cover, so why bother reading it? However, these spoofs are the exception that proves the rule.

  194. @Ralph L

    Anthologies of old short stories are a good way to get at least a vague sense of who a writer was. Updike tended to be so overwhelming a perceiver of the visual and social world that ten pages is often enough.

    Roth’s 1950s short story “Defender of the Faith” about a Jewish sergeant back from combat in WWII trying to deal with two Jewish privates who keep dreaming up religious reasons to goldbrick is a good brief introduction to Roth.

  195. @Shetland

    Right, Rabbit Is Rich is peak Updike the way Hamlet is peak Shakespeare. Shakespeare was obviously getting carried away — Hamlet is fours long — but you can imagine him saying the Elizabethan equivalent of “Damn, I’m good” while writing it. Updike has spoken about how Rabbit Is Rich was threatening to go on forever because he was having such a good time writing it, even though his exuberance was undermining his theme of America’s Jimmy Carter Malaise Era.

  196. s.n. says:
    @JimDandy

    grossly overrated, and unlikely to withstand the test of time.
    see also: Mailer, Norman
    for me the only american writer of the last half century worth rereading is cormac mccarthy

    • Replies: @JimDandy
    , @JMcG
  197. @RichardTaylor

    Does anyone read Roth or Updike because they want to or is it because they’ve been deemed of literary importance?

    Roth was a native of Weequahic, New Jersey, which was the Jewish section of Newark and produced more Ph.D.’s than any other high school in the 1950s. As such, his novels were always popular here.

  198. JimDandy says:
    @s.n.

    I would actually put Updike and Roth on a higher level then the ridiculous gasbag Mailer. Then again, Mailer can’t be blamed entirely for his mindboggling-douchery–he appealed to narcissistic wannabe- “tough jews” in positions of influence, and thus his traveling one-man clown show was spun by many as maverick intellectualism.

    • Agree: Tina Trent
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  199. @JimDandy

    Mailer’s 1948 WWII novel “The Naked and Dead” came out when he was only 25. I didn’t finish it, but it’s impressive at getting into the heads of a wide variety of characters.

    But he was wiser on paper than in real life. Mailer became slightly lovable as he fell out of fashion

    Roth had some of the same problem, but he wasn’t as much of a publicity hound compared to Mailer. He didn’t go on TV much at all, and his interviews tended to be devoted to deflecting questions about how autobiographical his books were.

    • Replies: @JimDandy
    , @Curle
  200. You can stick with digital, but you need to save the data. If it’s on Kindle, Amazon can just delete it or not allow you access on a new device. I don’t like physical books anymore because I need reading glasses (I just increase the font size on a tablet) and books take up a ridiculous amount of space.

    Considering how hostile the ruling class is, why not just use torrents to build your library. You can download this book in a second, though I don’t have the slightest desire to read it.

    Just think, the semi-classic “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” was canceled recently. 84 years after publication. I honestly don’t want to save a truckload of children’s classics just so my grandkids have a chance to read them, not when you can put the same material on a flash drive. (yeah, you’ll need to copy and backup stuff from time to time or you’ll lose data).

  201. Dumbo says:

    Zzzzzzzzz… More boring than this, only another post about golf.

    Both are pretty boring, bad authors.

    Roth is actually more interesting, I’ve read a few of his novels. Maybe I even liked one or two at the time. Others were awful. “The Human Stain” is actually one of his worse ones. Perhaps only “The Plot Against America” is worse. “Zuckerman Unbound”, “Sabbath’s theater” and “Operation Shylock” were at least funny, even if perverse and judeocentric as anything else he’s written.

    Updike, I find him unbearable. I don’t get his fame. Boring boomer self-gazing. Well I guess he’s not technically a boomer. But OK.

    Both are just testament to the decadence of America and the White Race.

  202. Dumbo says:

    As for Bailey, he’s probably an asshole, but I don’t get exactly the accusations of “grooming for sex”. What does it mean, exactly? Using hypnotic rays? Corruption of minors, as it was called before?

    From the article written by one of his victims, who accuses him of rape.

    I recalled how I’d dutifully read Animal Farm for his class but before his lessons had only understood it as a more intense and militant version of Charlotte’s Web. “Trotsky? Stalin? The Russian Revolution? I thought this book was about a barnyard!” I wrote in the letter, explaining how this talented teacher had opened my eyes

    She seems a bit dim. I think I read Animal Farm when I was 11 or 12, and even then it was pretty clear to me what it was about.

    https://slate.com/human-interest/2021/04/blake-bailey-former-student-sexual-assault-essay.html

    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
  203. Pericles says:
    @Jack D

    In many recent cases, even though consent was clearly given at the time, the woman who has second thoughts later says that her consent was not valid

    Cf. Julian Assange.

  204. Pericles says:
    @JohnnyWalker123

    Not good.

    Yet, somehow, predictable.

  205. Pericles says:
    @El Dato

    Reimagine, Rebuild, Renew, Recough.

  206. @Paperback Writer

    Which WW2 novel is comparable in eminence to Napoleonic wars novels like Stendhal’s “The Charterhouse of Parma”, Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”, Thackeray’s “Vanity Fair” or Hugo’s “Les Miserables”?

    Zero, zip, zilch.

    • Replies: @Paperback Writer
    , @Franz
  207. sayless says:
    @Simon

    Reminds me of what Orwell wrote about “Paradise Lost”: (paraphrase) “Paradise Lost” is a good poem, but probably nobody ever wished it was any longer than it is.

  208. Barnard says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Wasn’t part of the reason that Bonds was wearing that gigantic shield on his elbow that almost stuck out into the strike zone? It is hard to believe MLB let him get away with that.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  209. @Barnard

    Bill James pointed out that Barry Bonds came up with a lot of semi-cyborg innovations in the name of safety that improved his swing. He was a really smart guy even before he started doing PEDs in his latter years.

  210. Ganderson says:
    @Franz

    Do those three include The Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes? Great book.

    • Replies: @Franz
  211. Ganderson says:
    @Anonymous

    “ Shake the hand
    That shook the hand
    Of PT Barnum
    And Charlie Chan…”

    Robert Hunter

  212. @Bardon Kaldian

    This is the stupidest take ever. WW2 produced a crop of terrific novelists. Saying that none of them wrote War and Peace is “not even wrong.”

    Fuck off.

    • Replies: @JimDandy
    , @Anonymous
  213. Ganderson says:
    @Dr. DoomNGloom

    James wrote an article in 2004 called Underestimating the Fog in which he takes-himself and the sabermetric community at large to task for assuming that if something can’t be measured, it doesn’t exist. I grossly simplify, of course.

    https://sabr.org/research/article/underestimating-the-fog/

    The interesting thing to me about Sabermetrics is that back in the 80s reading James and Pete Palmer and others really increased my enjoyment of the game. However, if I’d known that analytics would lead to baseball as it is currently played I would have said “no thanks”.

  214. @Tina Trent

    Enjoyed your post! As far as soused scribblers, Dorothy Parker had the last word — “I’m not a writer with a drinking problem, I’m a drinker with a writing problem.”

  215. @Curle

    Post-war atmosphere is not about wars. Real WW2 novels of quality are novels authored by Vassily Grossman, Wolfgang Ott, Alexandr Bek, Joseph Heller, Norman Mailer, Voinovich ..or novellas by Sholokhov & others. Perhaps the only WW2 novel I would call great is Grass’ “The Tin Drum”.

    But they are mostly middle-brow & good, not great.

  216. JimDandy says:
    @Steve Sailer

    I had the same experience with “The Naked and the Dead”–didn’t finish it, but thought it was impressive in some ways. His essays and real-life pontificating were what I’m referring to as clownish. His delusion that he was America’s Greatest Living Intellectual Heavyweight pushed him into a tortuous, obscurantist style and an insufferably contrived delivery.

    Roth was low-key cancelled by a New York literary world that ultimately spoke of him only in judgmental whispers about the fact that he was still openly attracted to younger women.

  217. @Nicholas Stix

    Alright, I posted it at your site, but here is for all to see. It’s epub, 55 Mb. Click on image > get/download

    http://libgen.rs/book/index.php?md5=0E75F8792A7D4B0B1CC1090558190C7E

  218. Anon[297] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Without his steroid enhanced power pitchers would not have feared him so greatly and he would not have received nearly as many intentional and quasi intentional walks.

    And haven’t looked up how many games and at bats he had, but without steroid aided recovery he likely would have had more days off and fewer at bats in the dh less NL

    • Replies: @Nicholas Stix
  219. Curle says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Gore Vidal and Mailer had it out on some TV show, Cavett? Anyway, it was pretty funny. I expected Mailer to do better but Vidal held his own. I liked Vidal’s historical novels when I read them as a teenager and later in life wondered how a gay guy could effectively describe male/female jungle fever (think Lena Horne) when he made one of Lincoln’s aides an procurer official a young octaroon hooker.

    I wouldn’t mind understanding the Gore family dynamics better. Seems there should to be an interesting story there.

    • Replies: @black sea
  220. JMcG says:
    @s.n.

    Cormac McCarthy is one of the true greats. Reading his books is like watching the movie “Calvary” with Brendan Gleeson, often unbearable, but ultimately rewarding.

  221. @Barnard

    That’s the point – his ball-striking was so sublime all week it made up for his Steve Sax putting. And as you say with Watson the Babe was always far more popular than the Splendid Splinter and for similar reasons.

    Nicklaus with his statement in support of Trump was a Babe-sized mensch move in the face of all the hysteria.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
  222. @Dumbo

    She seems a bit dim. I think I read Animal Farm when I was 11 or 12, and even then it was pretty clear to me what it was about.

    I first read Animal Farm at the age of 11 or 12 too, and I had never even heard of the Russian revolution, or of communism for that matter, but I still enjoyed the hell out of the book as a morality fable in its own right and was rooting for the animals to succeed.

    Did you really know that Old Major was Karl Marx, Snowball Trotsky, and Napoleon Josef Stalin at the age of 12? Wow, Dumbo!

    I think the reason for the immense success of the book was (is) that it CAN be read on two completely different levels, and younger readers will reinterpret it when they are much older, much in the same way that you might first read Bible stories about miracles when young and internalize them, but reinterpret them on several different levels as an adult.

    • Replies: @Dumbo
  223. @Desiderius

    Nicklaus with his statement in support of Trump was a Babe-sized mensch move in the face of all the hysteria.

    Nicklaus’s comment was completely out of bounds.

  224. black sea says:
    @Curle

    Vidal claimed to have had sexual relations with both me and women, including a prolonged affair with Anais Nin. He didn’t really consider himself gay, because he didn’t consider anyone gay. He argued that there are homosexual acts, but not people.

    His family history is interesting, though I’d take some of it with a grain of salt. His father was in charge of The Civilian Aviation Commission, or something similarly named, and there is a short film of Vidal piloting a plane when he was a boy. He also had complicated — though non-blood-kin — family connection to Jackie O.

  225. I don’t get exactly the accusations of “grooming for sex”.

    I believe this is a British phrase which was originally adopted from some kind of activist antipedophile lobby group which had the theory that some perverted adults plan to sexually corrupt children as a long-term project in which they form a friendship and obtain the trust of the child as a conscious prelude to sexual seduction. This process is called “grooming” and these days may occur online as well as off.

    I worked for a few years in a sexual predators facility, and although I do not make any claim to be an expert in sexual perversion, I have read some of the main texts on the subject.

    I do not think that the grooming hypothesis is seen as very significant in the US, but it seems to be a thing in Britain. The US tends to use other terms, such as online seduction, or enticement.

    Of course the verb to groom can be used in a less pejorative sense too, for example one might say that Kamala Harris was long groomed for high office without necessarily having any sexual implication.

    The word groom originates from an old word that means a male servant. Male servants were often given responsibility for looking after horses which were “groomed” or brushed and cleaned before and after use.

    One way of grooming a horse is to use a curry-comb to rub them down.

    One might think that this had something to do with currying favor, but no such luck. The origin of this phrase is “curry favel” which means to brush down a chestnut horse. (Chestnut horses were associated with deception for some reason that eludes me.) Chestnut humans are called gingers.

    One might be tempted to think that a bridegroom is a man who prepares his virgin bride for sex, but, alas, this word appears to come from a different Middle English origin, so no such luck.

    • Replies: @Alden
  226. Jack D says:
    @Tina Trent

    Can you provide a source for the “sickening gynecological smell” quote? I searched my digital copy of The Plot Against America and found no such quote. Here is the complete and only passage where Frank is referenced in this book, in full:

    As it turned out, she’d been exactly the age of “the little factory girl” (as the whole country came to know her) murdered in Atlanta some thirty years earlier by her Jewish supervisor, a married businessman of twenty-nine named Leo Frank. The famous 1913 case of poor Mary Phagan—found dead with a noose around her neck on the floor of the pencil factory basement after going to Frank’s office on the day of the murder to collect her pay envelope—had been all over the front pages, North and South, at about the time my father, an impressionable boy of twelve who’d only recently left school to help support the family, was at work in an East Orange hat factory, obtaining a first-class education there in the commonplace libel that linked him inextricably to the crucifiers of Christ. After Frank’s conviction (on not entirely reliable circumstantial evidence that is all but discredited today), a fellow prison inmate became a statewide hero by slashing his throat and nearly killing him. One month later, a lynch mob of respectable citizens finished the job by abducting Frank from his jail cell and—much to the satisfaction of my father’s co-workers on the factory floor—hanging “the sodomite” from a tree in Marietta, Georgia (Mary Phagan’s hometown), as public warning to other “Jewish libertines” to stay the hell out of the South and away from their women.

    While you might have a different view of Frank’s innocence or of Jewish-Christian relations in the South, there is nothing in this passage that is even remotely insulting to Phagan’s memory. Your putting these words in Roth’s mouth is akin to a blood libel.

    • Replies: @Tina Trent
  227. Jack D says:
    @black sea

    And to the Auchincloss clan as well.

    His biggest influence was probably his grandfather, Thomas Gore, the blind Senator from Oklahoma, to whom Vidal bore a strong physical resemblance.

    Young Gore served as a reader to his grandfather and was thus exposed to matters of state at an early age.

    Vidal was only very distantly related, if at all, to Al Gore.

  228. Dumbo says:
    @Jonathan Mason

    Probably not about Stalin and Trotsky and etc, but that it was about something else and paralleling revolutions in the real world was quite obvious, it’s a fable about revolutions in general (but modelled on the Russian one). Certainly not just about animals in the barnyard. But yeah, I got it as a gift from someone who thought was a children’s book. But it was a kind of depressive book for children, I think.

  229. Kylie says:
    @Simon

    “Jumping Jehoshaphat! Kylie, I know it’s absurd to argue over matters of taste, but that quote — which I see is from Lord Jim (thank you, Google) — has me throwing up my hands and saying, ‘I rest my case.’…

    Honestly, if that represents good prose, then there’s no such thing as overwriting.”

    Lol! I mentioned H. James and Conrad as favorites. As an English major and teacher, didn’t you notice this quotation from Lord Jim contains a Jamesian “as if”? A “two-fer”, as it were. 😀

    Seriously, yes, I will defend this passage as a setting of the stage for the disaster that’s about to strike. The image of the ship as a lone vessel in a merciless universe is a good one, I think. It foreshadows the dire situation of the passengers and crew that occurs without any possibility of rescue. It is also a good metaphor for Jim’s solitary life after his momentary cowardice becomes a matter of lasting public disgrace.

    Next time, just to wind you up, I’ll quote from The Ambassadors. 😊

  230. Ralph L says:
    @black sea

    “He also had complicated — though non-blood-kin — family connection to Jackie O.”

    They shared a step-father, Hugh Auchincloss.

    Vidal said he never had sex with his male partner of many decades or took it in the bum himself.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  231. Curle says:
    @black sea

    Interesting thanks. I want to look into the Gores more. My first cousin twice removed (grandmother’s cousin) married a Gore from Nashville back around the start of WW2. But Carthage is some distance from Nashville.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  232. Jack D says:
    @Curle

    The Gores are an interesting clan. They were Anglo-Irish (meaning not Irish at all) Protestants who arrived in the American colonies circa 1700. They ended up owning a considerable chunk of the land that became Washington, DC and spread further south. The Mississippi Gores (from whom Vidal was descended) were landed gentry (i.e. slave owners) while their relatively poor cousins the Tennessee Gores were not, but they both fought for the Confederate side.

    • Thanks: Curle
  233. Jack D says:
    @Ralph L

    Vidal said he never had sex with his male partner of many decades or took it in the bum himself.

    Vidal preferred “rough trade” – random sailors that he would pick up in restrooms, etc. He was lucky that he didn’t end up dead like Marc Blitzstein, who had similar taste in men.

  234. @black sea

    Vidal claimed to have had sexual relations with both me and women…

    Congratulations!

    • Replies: @black sea
  235. black sea says:
    @Jonathan Mason

    We can all dream a little! . . . (No homo).

  236. “two flaws in batting average: singles were treated as being as valuable as homers and wheedling a walk from the pitcher was ignored.”

    If the singles produce an RBI, or R scored, which in turn wins the Pennant, the WS, the game itself, then the 1B is very important. If the HR is a solo shot, which is on the losing end of a 10-3 game, no one remembers it, because it failed to help the team win the game.

    “Ruth’s strategy of not swinging at pitches he couldn’t hit out of the park stressed the weaknesses in batting average, but it retained some of its prestige.”

    May have been commented by now, but I’m surprised that Steve ignored Ruth’s batting average. His career batting average is .342, just 2 points below Ted Williams (Ruth hit .349 with NY). Ruth hit for average, and had 14 seasons of .300 or better. Ruth won the 1923 batting crown, hitting .378. In 1924, Ruth hit .393. In 1927, the year he hit 60 HR’s, Ruth hit .356.

    Bottom line, Ruth was a pure hitter, not just a HR hitter. A HR slugger and nothing more would be along the lines of Harmon Killebrew, career BA of .256, more SO’s as BB’s. In some years, more SO’s than H’s.

    Steve, HR’s also factor into a player’s BA. And ultimately, Williams wanted to hit the ball. He wanted to be a pure hitter, not a walker. Any above average slugger can figure out the strike zone, take pitches and get BB’s. It’s not easy to actually, you know, hit the ball, especially into the OF.

    If it takes the likes of Bill James to convince fans that actually, Williams was greater or near great as Babe Ruth, than that says more about the state of the sport today.

    Babe Ruth was, and remains, an icon. People in their 20’s and 30’s have still heard of him. Can’t say the same for Ted Williams. Babe Ruth changed the way MLB is played. That alone makes him a notch higher in greatness. In NBA history, who would be the greater player: Karl Malone, or Michael Jordan? Should be an obvious question. How many non-NBA fans under 30 can name Karl Malone? But they can name MJ.

    And the other thing left out, is that, Babe Ruth was a great team player. Playing in 10 WS, winning 7. Ted Williams played in 1 WS, and won 0. Perhaps if he had learned to hit to all fields, like his HOF contemporary Stan Musial, he would have played in more WS (Musial played in 4 WS, winning 3, including in 1946, STL vs BOS).

    It can’t be stressed enough: The greatest of the great in any endeavor need no introduction, or carefully crafted technical stats to make them appear greater than they are. “The greatest…you’ve never heard of..” is a misnomer. Everyone knows who the greatest of the greats are of a major (especially public) professions.

    Babe Ruth changed MLB, which still plays his game. Ruth was MLB, and dominated for over a decade. Williams didn’t dominate because there were always others just as great (e.g. DiMaggio, Musial, etc).

    Ruth was first to make the HR a major offensive weapon, everyone else is playing his style. But he also did hit for BA. (.342 career).

    • Agree: AceDeuce
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Ganderson
  237. @AceDeuce

    (Another plus for YT men –unlike them, White Men usually STFU about their unhappiness–well, until the millennials came on the scene.)

    I used to bitch about a lot of stuff when I was a yute, but for a long time now I try to never complain.
    It’s unmanly, it doesn’t do any good and no one wants to hear it, so stop feeling sorry for yourself and get on with it.

    • Thanks: AceDeuce
  238. HA says:
    @RichardTaylor

    “But do they actually get any intrinsic value out of what they read?”

    They get about as much as the 14-year-old boy who pretends he is reading National Geographic features about prehistoric jungle tribes because he is interested in anthropology.

    • Replies: @Curle
  239. Carol says:
    @JohnnyD

    I listened to the whole thing and that interlocutor is addle-brained, painful to listen to.

    Are are the younger “scholars” on Adderall now? Does it wreck their ability to firm coherent sentences?

  240. J.Ross says:
    @AceDeuce

    FMJ also derived in part from Phillip Caputo’s A Rumor of War, especially the boot camp summary which I believe it partially quotes; the abuse and suicide sequence everyone remembers and takes as documentary evidence of drill instructor evil is actually near-lifted from the Japanese WWII epic The Human Condition.
    I have found that there’s a ton of fascinating and well-written Vietnam paperback nonfiction, which probably displaces potential novels. They feel like novels and are to a great degree a response to uninformed public disapproval, so obviously nonfiction would be preferable way to go over a novel.
    THC is ten hours long and its boot camp sequence is about in the middle (after the protagonist serves as an administrator for Chinese labor, but as a “nice guy” administrator), but it ticks all the boxes: culture of bullying, targeting this one clumsy guy who can’t do anything right, protagonist is paired with the clumsy guy but can’t save him, screwing up the reassembly of a rifle, having forbidden food resulting in group punishment, and suicide in a bathroom stall (but played as a dark joke in the original). Kubrick was not basing the Lawrence sequence on Parris Island. The marines at their worst simply were not Imperial Japanese, who after basic training as a standard practice punished mistakes with suckerpunches.

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  241. @Curle

    I ultimately judge novelists & all fiction writers whether they expand or contract the experience of life. Also, are they depressing or not (tragedy is not depressing, it enhances life).

    So, depressing contraction major authors – Hawthorne, Thackeray, Turgenev, Flaubert, Maupassant, Chekhov, James, Conrad, Kafka, Faulkner, Joyce, Musil, most of Mann, Woolf, … Grass, Rushdie, ..

    Expanding life authors – Stendhal, Bronte sisters, Melville, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Zola, D.H. Lawrence, Hesse, Solzhenitsyn, ..

    Proust is a special case – mostly depressing, but his wisdom places him in both camps; George Eliot, I think, too.

    Updike is a depressing author, with all his fat dumb bald guys & tons of obsessive sex that make his characters gross & somehow- small, insignificant.

  242. Franz says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Which WW2 novel is comparable in eminence to

    For about thirty years, WWII novels were their own genre. Comparisons are dangerous.

    But for the record, James Jones wrote From Here to Eternity and actually created a sub-genre of novels that approach the war from the side, telling a very human story that includes the war. It’s been dramatized several times and each time they find new takes on the story. Even the earliest version, with Burt Lancaster, is still worth seeing; rare for book nearly 80 years old. And the movie not much younger.

    Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead is a long, Dostoevskian book that isn’t for everyone but has a lot to say about the corruption of power in the upper ranks. Mailer matches Hugo’s “internal history” techniques by using John Dos Passos-style newsreels, headlines, and snippets of news reports to separate the action sequences and it’s quite effective. WWII was a media war, Mailer more than anyone since makes the reader aware of that.

    The lesser-but-widely-read novels include Irwin Shaw’s The Young Lions, which shows the war from the point of view of young men on both Allied and German sides. Gore Vidal wrote Williwaw based on his own experience as a mate on an Army transport ship in the Aleutians; it’s a short book and still sort of spooky. Some critics include plays, such as Mister Roberts, because the effectively established the mood and place, but you’ll have a really long list if you do. But you have to include it as war fiction.

    If you only focus on the first decade following the war, there were almost too many to properly cover in a book-length study. But WWII writers were lots different from the WWI writers like Hemingway because they saw the danger of large military systems becoming more of a hazard to the soldier than the enemy. That’s why Catch-22 (WWII) and MASH (Korea) are both seen as more pertinent to the Vietnam era than their own.

  243. Franz says:
    @Ganderson

    No, but one was a business partner of mine who was at Khe Sanh when it hit the fan.

    When his book was not published, he turned the factual notes and tapes he made during the battle to an editor, and evidently some of them ended up in the short history,

    The End of the Line: The Siege of Khe Sanh

    . He told me that the book got the story right, whether they used his notes or not. Good to know he wasn’t misrepresented anyway.

  244. Art Deco says:
    @black sea

    Vidal claimed

    Suggest one might begin with the assumption that much of what Vidal had to say about himself was fiction ginned up for personal amusement and self-aggrandizement. Things one should not believe without actual documentation (letters, diary entries, accounts of third parties): that he had an affair with Jimmie Trimble (or was even a particular friend of Jimmie Trimble), that he had aught but a minimal history with women, and that he and Howard Auster never manipulated each other physically. (Howard Auster, who once claimed that at age 11 he had taken up hitting on the building super’s late adolescent son, should also be treated with skepticism).

  245. Art Deco says:
    @black sea

    His family history is interesting, though I’d take some of it with a grain of salt.

    At the time of his death, he had four siblings, each of whom had children. One nephew was left a house (a bequest delineated in a codicil the high class shysters acting as his executors attempted to conceal). None of the others received one thin dime. That includes his sister Nina, who had a claim against the estate because Vidal had never bothered to repay a loan he’d received from her to settle some legal bills accrued during his tangles with Wm. F. Buckley, Jr. His philanthropic bequests weren’t directed to effective charitable institutions like the Red Cross or Technoserve. Neither did they benefit something like a local museum, library, or archive badly in need of a larger endowment. Instead, he dumped it on Harvard University, which has a huge endowment and with which he had no particular association. (Howard Auster didn’t have any relatives closer than a 1st cousin, and not many of them).

  246. Curle says:
    @RichardTaylor

    How about you read one of Updike’s books, I recommend Rabbit Run, then it should become obvious to you if you’re such a sceptic? If you don’t want to go that far how about watch the movie starring James Caan? It’s available on Prime.

  247. Curle says:
    @HA

    Which of Updike’s novels had that effect on you?

  248. Alden says:
    @Jonathan Mason

    Street pimps do groom very young, like 12-15 year old girls into prostitution. They are nice for a month then put the girl in the street. They really do hang around bus stops near middle and high schools to meet girls. Take them for a meal give them some dope some clothes encourage them to run away from home and live with them. It’s a constant recruitment process. Because most girls don’t want anything to do with an older man.

    Accost 10 girls and one will succumb. And the pimps know where every group home, special program middle school in town is.

  249. Alden says:
    @Tina Trent

    Frank did it. Even the police officers who delivered the body to the coroner figured it was a dark haired White man. Frank left his head hair on her head and chest and pubic hair mixed with hers. Plus the hair had Franks brand of hair tonic on it. That doesn’t prove Frank did it but it did prove it wasn’t a black man.

    Circumstantial evidence; Conley had a relationship with a woman his own age and was not known for lechering around the factory girls
    or any other women. Frank was widely known by every woman in that factory for grabbing pawing and lechery. “ Never be alone with Mr Frank” was the motto of every girl in that factory.

    It’s a Jewish thing. It’s a sin to have sex with your wife 15 days of the month because there might be a molecule of blood lurking about. But it’s not a sin to have sex with the subhuman unclean animal shiksas during the forbidden days.

    ADL was founded to defend Frank and smear Conley. It was Frank’s brother who ran the NY branch of the business who started the “ Frank’s only being accused because he’s a Jew” money grifting. That’s a big Jew business. Find a cause and the donations pour in. Had the brother and family not started the defend the poor pitiful pathetic Jew thing, no one would have known or cared if Frank was a Jew or Christian

    BLM is just a more advanced version of the donation begging ADL of the early 1900s.

    • Agree: JMcG
    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Art Deco
  250. @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    The new OPS statistic treats a single as being worth twice a walk.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  251. @Ganderson

    The interesting thing to me about Sabermetrics is that back in the 80s reading James and Pete Palmer and others really increased my enjoyment of the game. However, if I’d known that analytics would lead to baseball as it is currently played I would have said “no thanks”.

    Same here.

    Perhaps some things in this world can be understood too well.

  252. @Bardon Kaldian

    Interesting classification scheme. Where would you place Austen?

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  253. Kylie says:
    @Simon

    “But that passage — which I assume you’ve chosen to offer us as an example of Conrad at his best — strikes me as purple to the point of self-parody. Honestly, if that represents good prose, then there’s no such thing as overwriting.”

    I like an author’s prose to suit his or her subject. Lord Jim is about a man’s very public loss of honor–back when honor meant something and in some cases, meant everything. I think Conrad’s prose suits his subject.

    I also like Ellis’s Less Than Zero and C. McCarthy’s The Road. Ellis’s [in]famous “affectless” prose and McCarthy’s anti-Jamesian minimalism suit their subjects well.

    Here’s my idea of perfect prose: “All the years that have passed have not dimmed my memory of that first glorious autumn.”

  254. BLESTO-V says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Stealing material from Bobby Valentine?

  255. Anonymous[291] • Disclaimer says:
    @Paperback Writer

    James Gould Cozzens’ Guard of Honor.

    Guard of Honor is a classic but it is a hard one to put into an American literature course. Why? Because Cozzens was not a romantic. Most American writers, from Cooper, Poe, and Hawthorne onward, have been, and nearly all the novels in our canon are romances. This has advantages for teachers and students both. It’s handy for teachers, because there is usually more to say in class about something rich in symbols and hung with cloudy portent. It is wonderful for students, because practically everyone is–and should be–a romantic at eighteen or nineteen or twenty. Clear-eyed realism comes later.
    Either way, it is hard to assign books to twenty-year-olds that there is little chance they can really appreciate until they are about thirty-five, and that is another reason Guard of Honor does not occupy its rightful place. Hardly anyone read it in college.

    Its rightful place is as one of the greatest social novels ever written in America. It’s not just a slice of life, but a whole rounded pie. The action takes place at Ocanara Army Air Field in Florida over a three-day period in 1943. There are about twenty thousand men and women stationed at Ocanara and its satellite bases, and Cozzens seems to understand every single one of them. He has the kind of authority as author that supposedly went out with Balzac and George Eliot….

    Guard of Honor is more than an account of the complex workings of a large air force base–and, by extension, of a country at war. It is two other things as well. For the reader, it is a living one’s way into the military mind. The two characters through whose eyes we most often look have both fairly recently been civilians, and with them we encounter the blundering idiocy of career officers, the well-known absurdity of army regulations. But from here (which is a point at which Catch-22 stops) we go on to understand and even to accept. Not that the military mind is right, but that there are right things about it–and more important, that there are comprehensible reasons why it is as it is.”

    https://neglectedbooks.com/?p=24

  256. @The Last Real Calvinist

    I don’t know, haven’t read her novels.

  257. @Bardon Kaldian

    You should.

    Try at least one, and see what you think. It doesn’t have to be Pride and Prejudice. Try Persuasion; it’s Austen’s mature work, and it’s relatively short.

    • Thanks: Bardon Kaldian
  258. Anon[293] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    You can still download the cancelled Roth biography by following the link to my ‘Website’ above

  259. @Steve Sailer

    Oh, then that makes it all a-okay then, doesn’t it? And Ruth has more career H’s than Williams. Just not seeing this resuscitation of Ted Williams, who hasn’t been relevant since his retirement. Ruth, meanwhile, played a major role in Sam Wood’s The Pride of the Yankees film, and had a biopic made of his life before he passed. The hoi polloi may have briefly embraced the Splendid Splinter due in large part to John Updike’s article, but it didn’t go anywhere. The rejoinder to Updike, of course, is to raise him Ogden Nash:

    R is for Ruth

    To tell you the truth,

    There’s just no more to be said,

    Just R is for Ruth.

  260. Ed Case says:
    @Achilleus

    I never tire of reading about Ted Williams.
    On the question of combatting the Boudreaux Shift, I wonder if Ted could have successfully changed his method at that age?

  261. Jack D says:
    @Alden

    The hair evidence was all false. Conley did it. The prejudice in the South was more against rich Northerners coming in with money and disrupting the rural Southern way of life with factories where unmarried young women worked but it didn’t help Frank that he was Jewish either. Frank was not Orthodox and would not have observed Jewish law on female impurity.

    • Replies: @Curle
  262. Tina Trent says: • Website
    @black sea

    Oh dear, Anais Nin. With whom didn’t she sleep?

    My favorite Nin story has her comforting poor Antonin Artaud in a cab after people laughed at a Theater of Cruelty play he performed in which he crucified himself on stage. She was a far less annoying version of H.D., the awful “poetess” so obsessed with Paul Robeson that she staged some insane art films with him. The poor guy, an actual actor, simply looked confused throughout. It had to be nearly as bad a choice as embracing Stalinism to allow oneself to be embraced by H.D.

  263. Ganderson says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    Yojimbo- you had to mention Harmon. 😀 But I concede your central point. While only a lunatic would argue that Killebrew was as good as Williams or Ruth, his .256 is somewhat misleading, as he played in probably the most run scarce environment since the dead ball era- if he’d played in the 20s and 30’s his average probably would have cracked the magic .300 barrier. Your point about Ruth’s part in creating that era is well taken.

    As for your recognizability argument, I have a large framed photo of Williams in the uniform of the Minneapolis Millers- 1937, maybe? Very few of our visitors recognize him in the picture- I doubt many would fail to identify a similar photo of Ruth as an Oriole.

    And one other thing- Williams and Killebrew had this in common: they were both the best players on underachieving teams.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  264. Tina Trent says: • Website
    @Jack D

    You are correct: I made an error here; I am referring to David Mamet’s The Old Religion, in which Mamet also frequently puts the testimony of one historical figure or another into the mouth of white female child laborers, an ugly projection of guilt intended to avoid the discomfort of Frank’s racist testimony against the black janitor Conley. I apologize for conflating Roth with Mamet. Their attitudes towards women are pathetically similar, but that doesn’t make it right to misremember who wrote Old Religion.

    It has been a long time since I read the Leo Frank literature. Thank you for correcting me.

    I lean strongly to the belief that it was Conley, not Leo Frank, who killed Mary Phagan, but we’ll never know for certain unless some new evidence arises. That in no way implies that I condone Frank’s persecution or his murder. His murder and Phagan’s murder were equally horrible. Another author who turns the already-dead child Phagan into — cinematically — Frank’s killer is Uhry, in his creepy Broadway musical, Parade. I’m talking about fictional works, but this is my point in doing so: Why would making an already-murdered child into a symbol of evil be any better when done by one group or another?

    When the State of Georgia symbolically pardoned Frank in the 1990s — an act I approved of, though suggested at the time that it should be extended to all victims not only of the Red List but of known lynchings recorded elsewhere — I suggested they similarly symbolically re-open the case of Mary Phagan’s horrific murder, because she died precisely as Frank died: terrorized, and strangled. This modest suggestion was greeted with the sort of outrage you direct at me here. I stand by my belief that Phagan has been made the scapegoat of Frank’s murder in movies, novels, musicals, and now even legislative acts, and that doing so is no better than the emotions that drove the mob that killed Frank.

    • Replies: @Curle
  265. Curle says:
    @Tina Trent

    Whatever meaning you are ascribing to the term red list it is not appearing in Google or DuckDuckGo searches that makes sense in context.

    • Replies: @Tina Trent
  266. @Ganderson

    “Williams and Killebrew had this in common: they were both the best players on underachieving teams.”

    Williams and Killebrew played in 1 WS each, and won the exact same number, 0. Doesn’t really speak well to their ability as team players, much less team leaders.

    To be fair, Killebrew had 573 HRs to Williams’ 521. Obviously a bit misleading as Ted missed years due to WW2 and Korea.

    “his .256 is somewhat misleading, as he played in probably the most run scarce environment since the dead ball era-”

    Since WW2, HR sluggers have become adverse to hitting for average. As if, they honestly don’t think that a slugger can hit for both average and power. Most, not all sluggers have followed after Killebrew. Mays and Aaron, for example both won batting titles and have career BA’s over .300.

    Perhaps the best comparison to both Killebrew and Williams is HOF NY CF Mickey Mantle. Mantle, though hit fewer HR’s than Killebrew, did, like Williams, hit for average. In fact when he retired, he stated that his one regret regarding his career was letting his career BA dip below .300 (his was .298).

    But the other point remains: since 1969, when the strike zone returned to pre-1962 levels, many MLB sluggers hit for power and have lower batting averages. In other words you can basically count their time at bats to figure out when their HR’s are due. HR, BB, and SO. That’s basically what many are good for nowadays.

    That isn’t to say that there aren’t some in the classic Ruth mold–hitting for power and average. Of course they do exist. (e.g. Albert Pujols) It’s just that there seem to be fewer of them around on a consistent basis.

    if he’d played in the 20s and 30’s his average probably would have cracked the magic .300 barrier.

    • Replies: @Ganderson
  267. Art Deco says:
    @Curle

    I think you mean Phagan’s grandniece disagrees.

    • Replies: @Tina Trent
  268. Pheasant says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    ‘Roth, I guess, did not write about blacks- he is in similar position to Woody Allen (Allen’s answer to Spike Lee- “I don’t have black friends.”).’

    Jesus wept!

    The human stain?

  269. Pheasant says:
    @Tina Trent

    ‘As a woman who encountered far too much of the screw-the-shiksa, Goodbye Columbus self-pity in high school, I still won’t deny Roth’s talent, but his take on Leo Frank was a bridge too far. Mary Phagan was a real person, a 14–year old impoverished factory worker raped and murdered in Frank’s factory. We’ll never know if Frank, or the black janitor Conley, or both did the deed, but for Roth, the mere existence of Mary Pagan justified her killing. In his novel of the case, he describes the dead, malnourished child laborer merely as a “sickening gynecological smell.”

    I don’t choose to read this sort of garbage person, prose style or no prose style.’

    Leo Frank definetly did it even his defence attorneys thought so. Thank you for i nforming me about Roth. I always thought he was a nasty piece of work and I was glad when they gave Bob Dylan that award over him.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  270. Tina Trent says: • Website
    @Curle

    Ida B. Wells’ The Red Record of Lynching. Wells, a black journalist, made an impressive effort to provide the sort of factual information about lynchings that would never make a biopic today — in order to denounce the evil of lynching. Published around 1900 but I think she kept the list going after that.

    • Replies: @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  271. Tina Trent says: • Website
    @Art Deco

    The grand-niece also requested recognition of some sort of her predecessor’s unsolved murder when Frank was pardoned — or the sentence vacated, I don’t remember. And she was roundly abused and called pretty vile names for doing so.

    There’s still a lot of socially approved abused to be heaped on that sexually violated, murdered little girl.

    And the abuse started early, with film versions of Phagan played by slutty adult women who get what they asked for. Then Alfred Uhry went one further, making a sickening musical that pits Frank and Conley against a dancing sexy tween evil army of lying, seductive underaged factory girls, sort of a cross between Annie and Driving Miss Daisy, except with lots of sexual violence. Perpetrated by the factory girls.

    • Thanks: Charon
    • Replies: @Art Deco
  272. Art Deco says:
    @Pheasant

    even his defence attorneys thought so.

  273. Art Deco says:
    @Tina Trent

    And she was roundly abused and called pretty vile names for doing so.

    By whom? The media technology available in 1986 didn’t provide many conduits for sicko cranks.

  274. Art Deco says:
    @Alden

    Frank was widely known by every woman in that factory for grabbing pawing and lechery. “ Never be alone with Mr Frank” was the motto of every girl in that factory.

    There was one woman who testified that he’d stuck his head once in the woman’s dressing room and there was another person who testified she’d seen him enter the woman’s dressing room with another woman (something the other woman denied on the stand). Thanks for the embroidery.

    • Thanks: Johann Ricke
  275. @Tina Trent

    “made an impressive effort to provide the sort of factual information about lynchings that would never make a biopic today — in order to denounce the evil of lynching”

    Of course they would make that kind of biopic today. Emmitt Till is routinely recalled by the NYT. The thing that most don’t mention, is that from about 1866-1968, the total number of people lynched in the US was about 3-3,500, with about 25% of them being white. In other words, contrary to what the Left would have you believe, there were not millions and millions of blacks lynched by whites during this time. Also not often mentioned, is that not all those persons that were lynched were totally innocent victims, minding their own business, when suddenly they were swooped and snatched up by evil racists to be lynched for no apparent reason.

    So for a little more than a century, there were as many blacks lynched in all America as there are during a single year of black on black violent crime. Something to think about.

  276. @Anon

    You second point is excellent; I hadn’t thought of that.

    There was yet another advantage Bond had. After he was finally forced out of the game, an announcer remarked that in Bonds’ juiced years, umpires inflicted on pitchers a strike zone “the size of a postage stamp.”

    Umps have been known to do this as a going-away present for hitters they figure are on the Cooperstown Express. Thus, though Willie Mays previously averaged 66 walks per season, suddenly he led the league in his last full season, at age 40, with 112.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  277. Ganderson says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    One difference between Killebrew and Williams was their overall likability- Killebrew was very popular among the the fans of the upper midwest, Williams not so much in New England, although his stature grew after he retired.

    Baseball is a funny game, too, it’s an individual sport played in a team context, or is it a team sport played in an individual context…. anyway Willians played when the first place of 8 teams went to the post season, for most of Killebrew’s career it was even worse- the best of 10. It is interesting that the Killer had his best year in 1969; an expansion year that was the first year of the LCS.

    The WS both played in went 7 games; in the case of the Twins they couldn’t beat Koufax in game 7. Not sure that makes Harmon a bad team player or leader. The Twins did not fare well in the 69 and 70 playoffs, for what that’s worth.

    • Replies: @Nicholas Stix
  278. @Nicholas Stix

    A young pitcher yelled at the umpire after he called a ball on a pitch to Ted Williams. The umpire replied, “Young man, when you throw a strike, Mr. Williams will inform you of that fact by swinging at it.”

    • LOL: Nicholas Stix
    • Replies: @MC
  279. @Ganderson

    “Baseball is a funny game, too, it’s an individual sport played in a team context”

    I saw what you did there.

  280. AceDeuce says:
    @J.Ross

    I hadn’t heard that Caputo had anything to do w/ FMJ. I do know that Gus Hasford and Michael Herr (Dispatches) were advisers on the film, and that the screenplay is credited to Kubrick, Hasford, and Herr. It’s been a long time since I read The Short Timers and Hasford’s other main work The Phantom Blooper, but at least some of the dialogue in FMJ is verbatim from his work. I have re-read Dispatches enough times to know that large chunks of dialogue in FMJ came straight from Dispatches

    A Rumor of War was a decent book. He’s a good writer. It wasn’t a novel, like Hasford’s (Herr’s book is part memoir, part fiction, part acid trip–in a good way). Caputo’s book was a conventional memoir, and as such, I didn’t include it in a list of VN war “novels.

    Lastly, Caputo was an Marine officer. They don’t go to boot camp per se, although OCS in Quantico is kind of similar, it’s different enough to warrant a separate setup and location. FMJ is set in Parris Island, where Hasford (and I ) actually went. I don’t recall Caputo’s book mentioning OCS or Basic School in great detail or as “colorfully” as boot camp was shown in FMJ.

  281. @JMcG

    WWI. What a conflagration! As a Midwestern Yank I feel far removed from the English – German enmity that gripped the world more than a century ago. Nevertheless next weekend I’m going to place US flags at the graves of my parents, grandparents, great grandparents and great uncle. My paternal grandfather served in the Canadian Army during the Great War. My great uncle was in charge of pulling horse drawn US artillery up to and back from the front.
    Would our world be any better if Emperor William prevailed?

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