Many Americans, perhaps most, hate to see their national and civilizational heritage coming under attack, with those who speak up in its behalf running the risk of being labeled Nazis or racists. They don’t understand why they can’t talk about America as part of the West, with its distinctive attributes and accomplishments and legacy, like their grandparents did and those who came before. And because of the calumny it unleashes when they speak up, many of them keep quiet about it; but many of them also quietly voted for Donald Trump last November in part because of this societal cleavage.
Even As We Speak
Along with my "best of" Reliable Essays , Picador honoured me in 2001 by publishing a fifth collection of recent essays, Even As We Speak . This book showed the immediate benefits of a drastic scaling down of my television production activities after the sale of our Watchmaker company. I had more time to undertake such long pieces as a review of Daniel Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners . The piece, commissioned by Tina Brown for the New Yorker , was one of several ideas on her part that I was glad about in retrospect, although the work was taxing at the time. I had also begun to pay far more attention to Australian literature and politics, in an effort, as it were, to see where I had been. This book, which still shows up in first-hand bookshops, is looked upon fondly by it author as a representative work of his immediate pre-retirement period, in which the vigour of a barely contained late midlife crisis is tamed by the wisdom of early decrepitude.
Rakoff’s sardonic take on Paris Fashion Week makes this one of his most memorable essays. Here’s what he has to say about Mssr. Karl Lagerfeld: “Seated on a tiny velvet chair, with his large doughy rump dominating the miniature piece of furniture like a loose, flabby, ass-flavored muffin overrisen from its pan, he resembles a Daumier caricature of some corpulent, inhuman oligarch drawn sitting on a commode, stuffing his greedy throat with the corpses of dead children, while from his other end he shits out huge, malodorous piles of tainted money.”