The anonymous reviewers at Chronicles of Culture don’t seem to like any thing except right-wing polemics. The problem is the usual plague of the selfrighteous: they have no sense of humor. For them, Roy Blount Jr. is “a humorist of sorts.” What’s the worst thing that can be brought up against him? He wears makeup in the cover photo.
There is a big world out there, where men still engage in “sports, drinking, chopping wood … and sexual relations,” although these subjects are obviously too earthy for the little puritans who review books. It’s not so much Roy who is too much for them, as the reality of everyday life. Don’t conservatives chop wood, drink bourbon, or make love? Don’t they have any of what Roy calls “the crown jewels”?
The dismal prissiness of so many American conservatives is a modern phenomenon. We don’t have to go back to Aristophanes or Juvenal or even Swift to find great humorists who were arch reactionaries. Most brilliant comedy and all great social satire-is intensely conservative, because it is a disgruntled response to the present’s failure to live up to the standards of a mythical past. W.S. Gilbert managed to be offended at:
feminists, art for art’s sake writers, bureaucratic generals, egalitarian republicans, and fat women-in fact, with just about everything that would become the 20th century. Hillaire Belloc and G. K Chesterton Imagined a social system straight out of the 12th century, and Belloc refused to drink anything invented after the Reformation. More recently in Britain you could point to Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell, while in America a good case could be made for the “nonliberal” vision of Peter DeVries.
Roy Blount is hardly a conservative, and he is sometimes offensive (so were Aristophanes and Rabelais) but he is also often funny. Your reviewers’ failure to respond to the funny side of contemporary life is part of a larger failure: the inability to grasp the zaniness of the universe. I wonder if they can really be conservatives.