Vol. 12, No. 2,856W - The American Reporter - March 18, 2006

Ink Soup

by Clarence Brown
American Reporter Correspondent
Seattle, Wash.

SEATTLE, Wash. -– Writing Ink Soup the day before you read it, as I now do, allows me to be a little bit topical.

Or at least as topical as the edition of the New York Times that lands at the end of my walk at 5 a.m. every day. Printed here in Seattle, it is obviously edited in New York, with a New York deadline. Its slogan could therefore be modified: "All the News (of the day before yesterday) That's Fit to Print."

This morning, for instance, when the two local papers had banner heads announcing the unexpected two-day advance in the change of regime in Iraq, the NYT was, as Borges might say, plentifully ignorant that anything out of the ordinary might have happened.

Not that we depend upon print to know what is going on in the world, for it is a regular habit to watch the seven o'clock broadcast of the news by the international French channel, TV 5 (Tay Vay Sank, for the Gallically challenged).

I can follow this pretty well, but have an in-house Francophone to help me over the more complicated bits.

There is one element of the French news, however, that no one has yet explained. Just before the introductory theme music, there is a prolonged heavy expulsion of what sounds to me like human breath. My explanation, faute de mieux, is the well-known French tendency to put a touch of eroticism into everything, even the handover of power to an Iraqi government.

This explanation finds no takers locally and is ascribed to my general dimness, a reaction not surprising in one who once said to me, "I can understand losing a sock in the dryer–but a fitted sheet!?"

~ ~ ~

While we are on the topic of gaps in media coverage, may I ask whether anyone has seen a review of a book by Alexander Waugh entitled "God"? And if the review was signed by me, I'd be especially eager to hear of it.

For I did write a review and have even been paid for it (by the Seattle Times), but, though the publication date was last month, the notice has never appeared.

Nor, so far as I can tell, has any other of the standard book reviews mentioned it. I regularly receive the LA Times Book Review, the TLS, the NYRB, to say nothing of the book sections of magazines like Harpers, the New Yorker, etc. About Waugh's "God" – zilch.

With my suspicious nature–vide supra on the topic of heavy breathing–I naturally see a conspiracy here. Perhaps it is a concerted plot not to notice books that have no colon in the title. Waugh could have had it read "God: the Big Guy Upstairs," but no. Just "God." I am not just being facetious with my suggestion of what might follow the colon, for, as readers of the Seattle Times might find out in the editor's own good time, my opinion is that the book is, for much of its time, a piece of class-clown nonsense.

Here, just so that I will not have written entirely in vain, is an excerpt from my review:

"On the always delightful topic of circumcision, Waugh can be disgustingly hilarious. But there are times when the undergraduate lightheartedness descends into puerile silliness. At the end of a mock trial in which various voices testify as to the paternity of Jesus, we read: "I would like to put it on record that God himself was a singularly unhelpful witness and were it not that he is Supreme Ruler of the Universe I would have him up for contempt of court."

Clarence Brown is a cartoonist, writer, and Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton University.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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