The Breakfast Table

There Was An Old Woman Who Lived For Her Shoes


What chemistry! I bought the New York Post this morning even before reading your post, hoping it might provide fodder for us. (Didja see that business about Letterman’s stalker killing herself?) Funny about Dick Morris blaming Erskine Bowles for Clinton’s sexual peregrinations. Morris is another of those awful people who, although completely discredited, just won’t seem to go away. Can’t we buy some kind of sun-drenched island for these characters, where they can live out their days putting in obscurity?

And in answer to your closing questions (“What are you doing hanging out in bars?” and “Don’t you know what happens to men with too much free time?”), have you been in touch with my wife? Anyway, you can both relax. I never got to Bailey’s and never saw an inning of the Yankee game. Which illustrates one of the many reasons newspapers are dying. This morning, aside from the well-being of my family and a fantasy that I finished my next book before it finished me, the only thing I even remotely cared about was whether the Yanks beat the Indians last night. I picked up probably 10 pounds of newspapers this morning, and not one had anything about the big game aside from tepid place-holder stories. See, the first pitch didn’t even come until after 8p.m. So of course I logged onto the Web, where my customized Yahoo home page had the score (Yanks 7, Indians 2!) and a click gave me the gratifying news that the hated Jaret Wright was chased in the first.

Now about writing and selling books: Didja see that Bertelsmann AG is buying half of (the big bookseller’s online operation) for $200 million? Our esteemed mutual agent (we’re still stiffing him on this Slate gig, no?) has joked that pretty soon he’ll just have to send our manuscripts to a single address, because they’re will only be a single publisher in the world. This is an exaggeration, of course. Savvy little independents are springing up (Counterpoint, Steerforth, Overlook, MacMurray & Beck) and thriving, often away from New York and the bestseller lists. I think what Sloan really meant to say is that soon there will be only one publisher in the world with any money.

Random readings on Lewinskygate: the New Yorker carried some largely unsatisfying ruminations from some very fine novelists, of which Ethan Canin’s stood out, and the New Republic had a strongly sensible TRB by Margaret Talbott asking litigation-happy feminists, whose silence on the whole business has been deafening, whether they could admit it was now time to stop trying to criminalize sexual behavior and return to the kind of moral suasion that has accounted for the bulk of social change in any case. The New York Times remains full of Lewinskygate letters to the editor, my favorite of which today, from a man in Texas, observes that it’s easier now to get rid of an elected President than an appointed independent counsel. With delicious understatement, he doubts if that’s what the authors of the Constitution had in mind.

Fortunately, inquisitorial zeal does not prevail everywhere. In the Philippines, the Supreme Court has overturned the corruption conviction of footwear fetishist Imelda Marcos. “Thank God, once again the system works,” she said in a statement. Evidently, those shoes were made for walking.