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Book Review: Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription

Posted by Lissa on November 12, 2008

The short review: Loved it.

The longer reivew: Really loved it.

No, just kidding!  Basic history for anyone who doesn’t want to just check the online review — William F. Buckley Jr. founded National Review to have an unabashedly conservative viewpoint counteract the overwhelming tide towards liberal statism.  During most of the magazine’s long history he used his “Notes & Asides” column to print particularly amusing, entertaining or ridiculous letters along with his replies.

It’s quite rare to have a book that simultaneously makes you 1) marvel at the amazing intellect and vocabulary of the author, whose letters make up perhaps one half of the book; 2) laugh at loud at the equally amazing wit of said author.  It makes me long for the days when a cordial insult was a thing of beauty, for I do not think I ever lived in them.  (“Well, you’re ugly!” and “F*** you!” not being prime examples of a beauteous insult, in my opinion.)

It’s also a great book for downtrodden evil conservatives nowadays, in that it’s a good reminder of the difficulties faced in times past; for example, assaults by the New York Times are nothing new.  I just wish I was cool enough to think up his replies.  (Because, believe me, Bill Buckley was way cool.)

Here are a few (necessarily short) snippets that were Full of Awesome:

[snip] Or — if despite the odds against it of billions to one — if I am, in truth, who I say I am — and I repeat again: I am the second coming of Jesus of Nazareth — what more fantastic guest could you have on your program?
     You stand to win — either way.
Norman Bloom, New York, N.Y.

Dear Mr. Bloom: Beware.  I am the second coming of Pontius Pilate. — WFB

[snip] This is a time for righteous anger.  I don’t know whether the Lord should damn or save your little frightened cringing soul.  Have you no concern or pity?  Sometime say something nice.
Carl E. Jampel, New York, N.Y.

Dear Mr. Jampel: I love sugar, i love tea.  I love the girls, and the girls love me.  Best, WFB

[snip] As a long-time subscriber, more or less generous contributor, and sincere admirer of NR, I was terribly disapopinted to read in “Notes & Asides” of the April 25 issue the laudatory remarks from Dan Rather.  Where do you suppose NR went wrong?
Yours truly, Joseph Voyles, Department of German, UC Berkeley

Dear Mr. Voyles: NR never goes wrong.  If Dan Rather likes it, Dan Rather went right. –WFB

And, perhaps my personal favorite:

Mr. Buckley:
You are the mouthpiece of that evil rabble that depends on fraud, perjury, dirty tricks, anything at all that suits their purposes.
     I would trust a snake before I would trust you or anybody you support.
A. Ruesthe

Dear Mr. Ruesthe: What would you do if I supported the snake?  Cordially, WFB

Finally — see, I told you we’d get to the New York Times —

[snip]My observation is correct, that the laws of gravity are offended by flight, but what else is new?  The laws of truth and beauty are likewise offended by the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press, and who would compare, unfavorably to the airplane, the disaster record of the airplane over against, let us say, that of the New York Times editorial page?
Yours cordially, Wm F. Buckley Jr.

A fun, interesting read.  Get one for your sweetie’s Christmas stocking!


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