It is daunting to be charged with composing a notice of Stet, Damnit!, the valedictory anthology containing all the columns that Florence King wrote for National Review between 1991 and 2002. For one thing, she is herself a peerless reviewer, as TAS readers well know; for another, you might leave a participle dangling tumescently out there in the ether, and if it reached print she might see it and snicker at you. I’m not sure, but I think I might have been sent the book as a punishment for belittling my editor’s moaning about writer’s block. (“C’mon, isn’t that just a euphemism for laziness?”)
Another problem is that George Will came annoyingly close to saying it all with his oft-reprinted comment that “If Mencken were alive, he would be her.” This captures King’s loathing of human beings in the mass, and usefully calls attention to her unclassifiability. No intelligent human can wear the label “conservative” with complete comfort, except insofar as he has decided that his private definition of the term is the right and proper one. It might be more useful if we spoke in terms of “1833 conservatives” or “1065 conservatives” or “44 B.C. conservatives,” depending on what exact state of human society the referent hopes to conserve.
I’d peg Florence King somewhere around the mid-eighteenth century, perhaps earlier. Her ideal America — an America of baronetcies, male-only suffrage, and public floggings for comma abuse — must strike most as a comic scenario from speculative fiction. If she doesn’t exactly mean all her wildest denunciations of the contemporary Tocquevillian inferno, one can at least sense, rereading a decade’s worth of fortnightly columns, that she is continually looking around in desperation for a good reason not to mean them.
Her own popularity is perhaps the best one. There is a thriving King cult, and her departure from NR’s back page caused muted but strenuous national grieving. Women and fellow writers venerate her particularly keenly, and I would be startled to read a bad review — in a respectable place — of anything she had written. I have personally known female King devotees aged 75 and 25. Anyone with even a hint of literary or comic sensibility who now attempts to parse Southern society has to acknowledge a debt to her books and journalism.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online