The Real Mary Poppins, How Foucault Won the Right & the Children’s Table of Literature

As I attempt to get back on the blogging horse so to speak, what better than that classic of blogging days past, the link collection post? Below, some articles I find interesting…

Sarah Schutte discusses the real Mary Poppins at National Review:

Mary Poppins first alighted at No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane in 1934, changing the lives not only of the Banks children but of countless readers around the world. Those exposed only to Julie Andrews’s charming portrayal of Mary Poppins (for indeed, you must always refer to Mary Poppins by her full name) in the 1964 Disney film may find the character in Travers’s book rather jarring — even downright unpleasant. Vain, haughty, snobby, abrupt, Travers’s nanny causes our Disneyfied senses to revolt in favor of the sweeter film character. But this is to give the “real” Mary Poppins short shrift, and naysayers will miss out on some of the most whimsical stories ever penned.

The Real Mary Poppins Reminds Us to Wonder

ICYMI, Ross Douthat had an interesting column on how How Michel Foucault Lost the Left and Won the Right:

Taken together, the essays tell a story that’s surprising at first but reasonable once you accept its premises: If Foucault’s thought offers a radical critique of all forms of power and administrative control, then as the cultural left becomes more powerful and the cultural right more marginal, the left will have less use for his theories, and the right may find them more insightful.

How Michel Foucault Lost the Left and Won the Right

Over at The Dispatch Guy Denton talks with Christopher Buckley about humor sitting at the “children’s table” of literature:

Buckley recognizes today what Wolfe and Heller understood before him: that there is no richer source of literary material than real life, and that real life is a comedy. Readers crave stories of equal scale and strangeness to their everyday experiences in what Wolfe described as this “wild, bizarre, unpredictable, Hog-stomping Baroque country of ours.” The quotidian in America is often ridiculous, and the ridiculous demands to be parodied.

The View from the Children’s Table

Make Russia Great Again by Christopher Buckley

The bad news is I am back from vacation in Michigan and no longer have access to a lake simply by stepping out of my tent and choosing the form of my water transportation (pontoon boat, row boat, or kayak). The good news is I read another political satire and am here to report back.

First, the basics:

Make Russia Great Again Book Cover
Make Russia Great Again Fiction Simon & Schuster Kindle 288 NetGalley

The award-winning and bestselling author of Thank You for Smoking delivers a hilarious and whipsmart fake memoir by Herb Nutterman—Donald Trump’s seventh chief of staff—who has written the ultimate tell-all about Trump and Russia. Herb Nutterman never intended to become Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff. Herb served the Trump Organization for twenty-seven years, holding jobs in everything from a food and beverage manager at the Trump Magnifica to being the first general manager of the Trump Bloody Run Golf Course. And when his old boss asks “his favorite Jew” to take on the daunting role of chief of staff, Herb, spurred on by loyalty, agrees. But being the chief of staff is a lot different from being a former hospitality expert. Soon, Herb finds himself deeply involved in Russian intrigue, deflecting rumors about Mike Pence’s high school involvement in a Satanic cult, and leading President Trump’s reelection campaign. What Nutterman experiences is outrageous, outlandish, and otherwise unbelievable—therefore making it a deadly accurate account of being the chief of staff during the Trump administration. With hilarious jabs at the biggest world leaders and Washington politics overall, Make Russia Great Again is a timely political satire from “one of the funniest writers in the English language” (Tom Wolfe).

Of the recent political satire books I have read Make Russia Great Again was by far the best.

Christopher Buckley makes the White House activity all too believable and doesn’t go so far over the top as to spoil the humor. The dry humor works with just enough absurdity to add spice. Sure, it is at times sophomoric and crude, but given the subject matter what do you expect?

Why the three stars? I guess there is a fine line between humor that is funny and that which is depressing. So even as I smiled wryly at the humor, I was shaking my head at the reality that makes satire of the Trump era so difficult.

And this is where judging this book becomes difficult. If you WANT to laugh at/with Trump World, Buckley provides the opportunity. But in some ways it seems to normalize the absurdities involved. Ironically, the humor works in important ways because Buckley gets at the absurdity that lies close to any form of politics and celebrity culture and plays it straight. And he highlights how Trump turns this all up to 11. There isn’t a seething anger or a bitterness either.

Continue reading

They Eat Puppies, Don’t They? – Christopher Buckley to speak in Columbus

In what is either a master marketing plan or a rather bizarre stroke of luck Christopher Buckley has a new book out with the title They Eat Puppies, Don’t They? just as the subject of dogs as a meal became a subject in the presidential race and lit up social media.

As luck would have it, if you live in Central Ohio you have the chance to hear Mr. Buckley talk about his new book thanks to the folks at the Thurber House:

What: Thurber House‘s May Special Event featuring Christopher Buckley, author of They Eat Puppies, Don’t They?

When: Wednesday, May 16; A wine and hors d’oeuvres reception will be held from 5:30-6:45 p.m., followed by the reading at 7:00 p.m.

Where: Columbus Museum of Art

Details: A past Thurber Prize for American Humor award winner, Buckley is one of the most beloved political satirists writing today. In his brand new novel, They Eat Puppies, Don’t They?, a Washington lobbyist and his attractive female aid are determined to gain Congressional approval for a top secret weapons system. In order to get passage for this, they start a rumor that the Chinese secret service has plans to assassinate the Dalai Lama … the result: a series of crises taking the Chinese and the United States to the precipice of war.

More details available here.

William F. Buckley Jr. book round-up

Conservative author and commentator William F....
Image via Wikipedia

I have not posted in a while.  A variety of things contributed to that which I will not bore you with.  On the bright side, I really like the new look of the site and WP 2.8 is working well.

I have for the most part tried to keep partisan politics off this blog.  This is for a number of reasons.  I started this blog to get away from politics and feel that books can be a source of common ground for people who disagree politically.

I started The Right Reads as a place to review and discuss non-fiction dealing with right of center politics.  It seems better to keep that separate from a site that still mostly reviews fiction, history and creative non-fiction rather than political activism and philosophy. I will link to content here when it seems appropriate – and vice versa – that way readers are aware of it and can read it if they so choose but it doesn’t distract from the focus

With that in mind, here are some links from a couple of memoirs tied to William F. Buckley Jr.:

–> Right Time, Right Place by Richard Brookhiser

As the subtitle – Coming of Age with William F. Buckley Jr. and the Conservative Movement –indicates, RTRP is a blend of history, memoir, and political commentary.  I find this type of “creative non-fiction” can lack focus, often jumping between subjects and styles, but Brookhiser’s unique perspective, style and flair for language make this a remarkably focused and powerful read.

It is a very personal and honest look at the man and magazine at the heart of the conservative movement’s rise to power, and eventual return to earth, while at the same time a meditation on the dangers of hero worship and the nature of mature relationships.

–> Q&A with Richard Brookhiser on Right Time, Right Place

–> Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley

I was prepared to be angry about Christopher Buckley’s latest book Losing Mum and Pup.  I have been a fan – idealized is probably more accurate – of his father’s since a very young age and worried about any attempt at sullying that reputation.  I was so sure a tell-all book about losing both of his parents within a year would be offensive.  Throw in Christo’s (the name his parents used for him) less than astute political judgment of late and I had all but pronounced him beyond the pale.

But I decided to read the book first.  And, despite the difficult nature of the subject, I am glad I did.