The Breakfast Table

Brandeis Memories

Love your Brandeis memories–did EVERYONE who was cool in the Sixties go to Brandeis? Inevitably I will trot out my Woody Allen quote from “Annie Hall”–“Must be smart; went to Brandeis.” The new president lives not too far away, in a house he spent $700,000 to tart up. But I digress.

I must confess I was in the mood to natter about one of MY famous classmates, the ubiquitous Joyce Maynard. Yet another refugee from what we here in Boss-town call the World’s Second Greatest University, critic M. Kakutani in the New York Times waxes pretty darned generous to Joyce in today’s Gray Lady. Elsewhere in said rag, Boston’s Own Anthony Lewis brands Joyce’s I-committed-salacious-acts-with-J.D. Salinger memoir “nauseating.”

There are two camps lining up here. In the Sunday New York Times, Jonathan Yardley and I were both quoted tut-tutting Joyce’s (my quote was from a piece I wrote for Slate in January) penchant for Telling All. Basically, we, and now Anthony Lewis, are set up as White Guys Who Disapprove of Women Who Write About Their Breast Implants (Twice). (Another white guy takes this stance in a withering review in today’s Wall Street Journal.) Across the fence, we have Kakutani and the author of the Sunday Times puff piece, who are more or less on the It’s-Cool-That-Joyce-Lets-It-All-Hang-Out, Especially-About-This-Scuzzy-Pervert-Salinger side of things.

A synapse tells me there is bad blood between Yardley and Kakutani. I think he was quoted in Vogue as saying he considered giving back his Pulitzer when he learned Michiko won last year. And I think the author of that Vogue article, Paul Alexander, also wrote an unflattering New York magazine expose of … Joyce Maynard.

How odd that a New Yorker editor killed a lengthy profile of Maynard (no, not written by me) a few months ago, arguing that “no one ever heard of her.” That was then, this is now.

So either I go into my Paul Adao riff–not uninteresting, mind you–or we talk about Kevin from Heaven (Kevin White, memorably profiled by your man Anthony Lukas in HIS Pulitzer Prize winning outing, Common Ground). Today’s Herald has an “exclusive” three-hour long interview with the former Boston mayor, who is about as press-shy as …. Joyce Maynard.