federate spinster lady monarchists. Shenis the kind of eccentric that Southernnwriters have made careers out of describing,nthe kind of person you couldnnot possibly make up, and among thenfew American humorists who are actuallynfunny.nIn her novel, her autobiography, hernseveral satires, and this her third booknof essays Miss King has touched onntopics ranging from Lizzie Bordenn(with whom she identifies) to FDRn(the American monarch) to the unreadabilitynof John Updike to the joysnof spinsterhood.nThe essays in Lump It or Leave Itnlikewise cover a lot of ground, fromnThe Change to higher education tonbook reviewing. Discussing the Southernnhonor code of “do right” (as inn”You gotta do right, you hear?”) shensays that “Do Right is the South’snEleventh Commandment, a paradigmaticnillustration of what the authors ofnThe Lonely Crowd called ‘inner direction.'”nShe has a funny tale of thenaggressive appreciation of two devotednfans who loved her autobiographicalnConfessions of a Failed Southern Ladynso much they stole every FlorencenKing book they could find from a localnlibrary. And in “A Burnt Out BooknReviewer Case” she cracks the perfectnand perfectly heartless Satanic Versesnjoke that surely the folks at Waldenbooksnwanted to make: “John Dollar isna novel by Marianne Wiggins, who isnnow in hiding because she is married tonSalman Rushdie. Allah be praised.”nNormally book reviews are filler fornan essay collection, but reviewing isnone of Miss King’s fortes. She showsnJoan Didion no more mercy than shenshowed Wiggins, doing in the novelnPlay It As It Lays by means of thensemiautomatic patter of a drill sergeantnat “Camp Jejune”: ” ‘Play It As It Laysnis about a girl named Maria Wyethnwhose hometown in Nevada has beennturned into a missle range. What’s thatna symbol of? Lemme hear it loud andnclear!’ ‘SIR! THE ARID LAND­nSCAPE OF THE SOUL, SIR!'”nMiss King discusses abortion andnassault and suggests this solution to thenlatter problem: “All women should benallowed to; own a gun simply by virtuenof being female. A woman who prefersnto conceal her gun in a handbag shouldnbe given a carry permit with no questionsnasked. A woman who is willing tonwear her gun in a holster on thenoutermost layer of her clothing shouldnbe allowed to do so without having tonbother with permits of any kind. In allncases it should be understood that annarmed woman not only has a right tondefend herself, but a responsibility toncome to the aid of other women asnwell.” Every male friend to whom I’venread that passage has winced, butnyou’ve got to hand it to the woman: hernbrand of she-devilry is consistent,nwhich is more than most feminists cannboast.n(Should anyone have missed thenpoint, the cover photo is a nice parodynof the famous Ian Fleming picture,nwith Miss King grinning over the barrelnof what I take to be a Walther PPSnsemiautomatic pistol. Early in Lump Itnshe relates an anecdote about how twonyoung kids in a bad DC neighborhoodncased her but finally decided not tonmug this “mean lady.” They made thenright decision.)nFlorence King is an interesting case.nShe has been extremely frank aboutnher private life, which has been somewhatnexperimental, and that franknessnThe State Department ruled last Maynthat a Chinese couple who fled theirncountry’s forced abortion policy qualifynfor refugee status, clearing the way fornthem to receive political asylum. Theynare the first known cases to test PresidentnBush’s November 30, 1989, directiventhat grants asylum to people fleeingnforced sterilizations or abortions in theirnnative countries.nLi Jin Lin, a 37-year-old machinist,nand his wife Wang, 34, left their hometownnof Fuzhou in 1989 when Wangnbecame pregnant with the couple’s secondnchild. Chinese law limits most familiesnto one child and requires womennwho conceive again to undergo abor­nLIBERAL ARTSnA CHINAMAN’S CHANCE!nnn(along with tales of her former life as anpornographer) has no doubt lost hernsome readers. But it is also preciselynthat past of hers — in tandem with hernhumor—that has given her the public’snindulgence to write books that arenoften tremendously reactionary. Andnwhereas for so many writers this kind ofnpersonal frankness is a poor replacementnfor originality or wit or intelligence,nfor Miss King independentmindednessnin one area ties in nicelynwith independent-mindedness in allnother areas. She is worth reading becausenshe is funny. But what is bestnabout her is that she will say what shenthinks, and in a country in which freenspeech does not really exist, fewer andnfewer people, especially writers, haventhe simple guts to indulge themselvesnin the luxury of speaking their mind. Innthe richest country in the world plainspokennessnis the one thing we cannotnafford. Florence King’s grit is her bestnquality.nKatherine Dalton is the managingneditor of Chronicles.ntions. The couple paid smugglers innCanada about $1500 apiece to get intonthe United States illegally, but the INSncaught them in Albany. Wang wasnallowed to remain in this country becausenof the advanced state of her pregnancy;nLi was deported to Canada.nLi, with a nephew, tried again to crossnthe border last October, but they werenarrested at the International PeacenBridge in Buffalo. They were releasednfrom jail after Mr. Bush’s directive andnafter they had agreed to a plea bargainnon the illegal-entry charge. The Lins arenreportedly working in restaurants in NewnYork City.nAUGUST 1990/45n