Joseph Epstein’s latest collection of essays, The Ideal of Culture, is an occasion for Epstein’s long-time readers — count me in this category — and an opportunity for those who’ve not yet had the pleasure. It has certainly been a pleasure for me reading Epstein’s stories and essays — these last run from newspaper column length to one-subject books. A pleasure because Epstein’s work is a rarely found combination of insights, humor, liveliness, and penetrating observations on the Vanity Fair we call life. This is likely why publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Atlantic, the Weekly Standard, the New Yorker, and, I’m pleased to add, The American Spectator, have published his work over the decades. The essays in Ideal first appeared in one or the other of this lineup between 2007 and just the other day.