The XX Factor

Book of the Week: “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader”

Reading Matt Labash’s skewering of the enviro-guru Low Impact Man , I snorted with laughter and overlooked the glints of climate-change denialism peeking out among the jokes. For about a minute. Then I read the piece again and launched a big e-mail argument with Matt, who is a friend of mine. It is in this spirit that I recommend his new book, Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys .

It’s a collection of Matt’s work, which means it’s a collection of inflated egos, delicately punctured. You can hear the hiss as the air goes out of Dick Cheney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Sharpton, Marion Barry, and Roger Stone. At the same time, you’ll also come away with some sympathy for these men, or at least their foibles. At moments, Matt gives a tutorial in gonzo journalism-hey, what’s he doing on stage with Arnold? At other times, he is all appreciative audience, “mainlining the very soul of New Orleans,” as he writes of a jazz musician he profiled in the city after Katrina. You may not agree with his every underlying theory. But go along for the ride. And then afterward, argue with him.