For those with time Sunday and looking for an actual discussion (as opposed soundbyes and backslapping, self-congratulations), consider this:
Watch Nation publisher Victor Navasky this Sunday night,
on CSPAN's new show
discussing the importance of opinion journalism and his new book.
CSPAN's After Words:
July 17, 2005
Featuring Victor Navasky interviewed by David Frum
6:00pm EST and then again at 8:55pm
Get a taste of Navasky's book, A MATTER OF OPINION, from a recent Nation magazine excerpt.
Listen to Navasky talking with Marc Cooper on a recent episode of the RadioNation AudioBlog.
See the A MATTER OF OPINION website for info and to order copies online.
And check our "After Words" each Sunday night for the finest in televised book commentary.
Finally, check out The Nation to post comments to our blogs, to view news-wire links updated twice each day, to see daily weblog postings, for info on nationwide activist campaigns, and to read exclusive online reports, Nation History offerings and special weekly selections from The Nation magazine!
The above is from an e-mail sent out by Peter Rothberg to people who sign up for alerts at The Nation.
Ted e-mailed about a comment I'd made on A Matter of Opinion in The Third Estate Sunday Review "Five Books, Five Minutes." I'd stated that Navasky's Naming Names was a once in lifetime book. I do feel that. I feel that Backlash is Susan Faludi's once in a lifetime book, for instance, as well. That's not to say that they don't write other wonderful books (or that my judgement can't be wrong). Any good author (and Navasky and Faludi are two) should have several strong books worth reading. But there's one that will stand out for each reader. For me, Naming Names is just not something that can ever be topped. It's a masterpiece, put in the canon because it's interlocking, interwoven and brilliant. That's not saying that you stop reading strong readers. (Or that Navasky -- or Faludi -- couldn't top their own works.) If you think of Tapestry, the Carole King album, think of Kat's review where she spoke of the begrudging praise that usually followed Tapesty from some of, "Carole King never topped it" and Kat's response of who did?
People can complete their masterwork and still continue to be worth reading. Or think of the praise/critical opinion of Joni Mitchell's Blue -- how she poured everything she had into that album. That's how Naming Names is for me when I read it. (And I've read it many times.) That's not meant to suggest that A Matter Of Opinion is "just okay." If you read the discussion, you'll see that people start mentioning incidents and concepts in the book. There's a lot in the book. It's worth reading. It's a strong book.
Ted's impression was that I was saying Naming Names was Star Wars and A Matter of Opinion was The Empire Strikes Back. I've never seen the Star Wars films so that analogy doesn't work for me. But if you haven't read A Matter of Opinion, read it. You might like it better than Naming Names. Different people respond to different things. I felt Navasky not only told history in Naming Names, not only made it come alive but brought you something you didn't see in the other books on that period (McCarthyism).
If it helps any, I think Nabakov's masterpie is Ada and I'm sure not many would pick that book as Nabakov's finest. For different reasons, a book will speak to someone. Which is a point made here all the time. If Katrina vanden Heuvel doesn't speak to you, try Bob Somerby, if Somerby doesn't speak to you, try Jude, if Jude doesn't try Rebecca, or Mike, or Bill Scher, or Betty . . .
Different voices will speak to different people for different reasons. (Can I use "different" one more time in the preceding sentence?)
I think A Matter of Opinion is a strong book, worth reading, worth thinking about and discussing with people you know. If you haven't checked the book out yet, watch the program. If you're not around a TV Sunday evening, it will be archived and you can watch it online. (I'm not crazy about the interviewer, either.) It's a strong book. I've read it and will read it again. If Ted's asking someone else might be wondering so I hope that helps. (And remember, I can be -- and often am -- wrong. You might feel A Matter of Opinion tops Naming Names.)
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