Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  Expert Witness
Books:
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Writings:
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Billboard
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
  Archive
Venues:
  Noisey
CG Search:
Google Search:
Twitter:

Books in Brief: Nonfiction

AGE AND GUILT BEAT YOUTH, INNOCENCE, AND A BAD HAIRCUT
Twenty-five Years of P.J. O'Rourke
By P.J. O'Rourke
Atlantic Monthly

P.J. O'Rourke owes his place in the world of letters to his ability to make fun of politics. One is tempted to honor his bete noire, Karl Marx, and say he mocks "the immiserated," or buy into his ugly persona and call his targets "wogs," but the secret of his success is his avoidance of both indiscretions. Mr. O'Rourke's basic rhetorical ploy is never to deny the existence of suffering or--more remarkably in such a loud and proud conservative--economic exploitation. What gets him over is his self-interested cynicism about the impossibility of mitigating such nuisances. While little of this hodgepodge of left-wing juvenilia, right-wing propaganda and men's-magazine humor is exactly vintage, it isn't quite swill, either. From the fictionalized accounts of his career as a hard-drinking hippie to the Benchley-in-the-age-of macho lampoon of fly fishing, Mr. O'Rourke shows an incorrigible comic gift and an eye for detail that keeps the wild stuff grounded. And only a stick-in-the-mud could deny a pearl like: "The thing I like about Republicans is that they're no damn good at all. I know, I'm one of them. A Republican just wants to get rich, buy oceanfront property, dump the old wife and get a new blond one who'll listen attentively while the Republican talks about unfunded mandates over the arugula salad." Has Rush Limbaugh ever said it so well?

New York Times Book Review, Sept. 10, 1995