by a bullet that passed through an openingrnin his vest: no bullet penetrated hisrnbody armor.” And in October 1996, thernPresident used the death of Louisiana’srnJerome Harrison Seaberry to further hisrnanti-gun agenda, “hi Lake Charles,” hernintoned:rn1 met with that officer’s widow andrntwo beautiful, beautiful young sons.rnAnd I thought to myself, ‘Tonrnknow, if people like these folks herernare going to put their lives on thernline for us, the least we can do isrntell them if they put on a bulletproofrnvest, it will protect them fromrnbeing killed.” That’s the least werncan do for them.rnIt turns out that the late Mr. Seaberryrndied in an automobile accident, thus inadvertentlyrncontributing to the President’srn—and his Vice President’s—penchantrnfor creative fictions.rn”Feeling Your Pain” is not a comprehensivernhistory of the Clinton years, sornyou don’t have to hide it from your children.rnIt does not delve into areas (such asrnhealth care) where Clinton failed to getrnwhat he wanted, or the numerous scandalsrnthat have dogged his administration.rnWhat it does demonstrate is that Bovardrnhas the strong stomach required of arnpathologist: Think of him as a journalisticrnQuincy, examining the mangledrncorpse of the U.S. Constitution.rnClark Stooksbury writes from Knoxville,rnTennessee.rnGather Ye Rosebudsrnby Chilton Williamson, Jr.rnPrivileged Moments:rnEncounters With Writersrnby Jeffrey MeyersrnMadison: University ofWisconsin Press;rn149 pp., $24.95rnI effrey Meyers, a biographer whose fas-rnJ cination with the literary life is touchinglyrnsuggestive of the enthusiasm smallrnbovs used to have for the railroading one,rnis the only person I can think of whornwould consider it a “privilege” to be ledrnon, toyed with, lied to, and finally betrayedrnby V.S. Naipaul. Scott Fitzgeraldrnthought that writers were barely human;rnundaunted, Meyers wrote a biography ofrnhim. (Fitzgerald himself was an exceptionallyrnsweet-natured man.) Conceivably,rnMeyers might even have enjoyed arnstayover at Combe Florey with EvelynrnWaugh, who was given to making terriblernfaces at his guests through the window.rnLess temeritous souls than Meyersrnwould think twice about bearding literaryrnlions in their lairs, less tenacious onesrnwould shy from the pain of disenchantmentrnby acquainting themselves with therncrashing personal bores that all too oftenrnhide out behind scintillating literary personae.rnFinally, there are the braggartsrnand swaggerers —for example, ErnestrnHemingway and James Dickey — whornmake you catch water moccasins withrnyour bare hands, swim the Florida Straits,rnor try your hand with a cape and a youngrnbull before lunch. Perhaps because fortunernfavors the brave, Jeffrey Meyers hasrnbeen surprisingly fortunate in his literaryrnencounters. Naipaul, of course, is inhumanrn(he could be called a monster, savernfor the neurasthenic weakness thatrnprompts his behavior), while Allen Ginsbergrn(contrary to Meyers’ professed admiration)rnsounds about as compelling as hisrnpoetry. Though it might be overstatingrnthe case to say Meyers never met a writerrnhe didn’t like, “like” in this context isrncomparable to the emotion a scientistrnfeels for any one of his specimens. As arnprolific literary scholar, Jeffrey Meyersrncollects authors the way a herpetologistrncollects snakes and lizards; the only onesrnhe doesn’t “like” are those that got away.rnPrivileged Moments, which includesrnportraits of Cinsberg, Dickey, Ed Dorn,rnArthur Miller, Iris Murdoch, Naipaul,rnFrancis King, and J.F. Powers, leaves mernsomewhat at a disadvantage in feeling nornaffinity for the work of any of these authors.rnPowers excepted. (I have neverrnread a line by Arthur Miller, while EdrnDorn and Francis King, the English novelist,rnwere previously unknown to me.)rnIt’s a tribute to Meyers’ skill as an interviewerrnand biographer that I was withrnhim most of the way in his 39th bookrnwhich, owing to its tight interior design,rnis not as brief as its 149 pages suggest. EdrnDorn—the late poet, novelist, and nonfictionrnwriter whom Meyers knew whenrnboth men were members of the Englishrnfaculty at the University of Colorado atrnBoulder—turns out to have been an academicrnversion of Ed Abbey, while Millerrncomes across as an engaging and civilizedrnfellow, despite his naive and objectionablernpolitics. The essay on Murdochrnand her husband, John, to whom thernMeyerses were close, is good work, a studyrnin genial English eccentricity. However,rnthe final chapter, about the Minnesotarnnovelist J.F. Powers, is an absolutelyrnsplendid job, by itself worth the price ofrnthe book. For various reasons, I had alwaysrnbeen put off by Powers’ stuff, butrnMeyers’ brilliant treatment sent me backrnto his last book. Wheat That SpringethrnGreen, a review copy of which I hadrnowned since its publication in 1988.rnJim Powers (1917-1999), born in Illinoisrnof immigrant Irish parents, lived alternatelyrnin Ireland and Minnesota,rnwhere he taught at St. John’s Universityrnin Collegeville; beyond that, as Meyersrnputs it. Powers “never went anywhere.”rnHe did not involve himself in literary politics,rngive readings, or engage in otherrnforms of self-promotion. An old-fashionedrnCatholic, he disliked what thernChurch as well as America was becoming,rnand deeply distrusted the materialistrnimpulse. (He never owned his ownrnhome but moved 30 times with his wifernand five children; when Meyers metrnthem, the Powerses were living in arnsmall, shabby house rented from the university.)rnA slow worker who frequentlyrnsuffered from writer’s block, he spent 20rnyears on one of his five books. In old age,rnafter the death of his wife from cancer, hernmoved into a still smaller house where herndid his laundry on his knees beside arnrusty bathtub and wrote at a low table inrnthe one “warmish” room beside a line ofrnbooks inscribed by Waugh, FlanneryrnO’Connor, Peter Taylor, and RobertrnLowell. Lonely as a widower, he dislikedrn”most social life” and never attended culturalrnevents on campus, while readingrnbooks had become a “distraction.” Powersrnrefused Meyers’ offer to interview himrnfor the Paris Review’s “Writers at Work”rnseries as a means to enhance his reputation;rnlater he wrote:rnI no longer (if I ever did, in myrnheart) believe there is any hope forrnme as a popular author, even a literaryrnone, and so it’s not as yournthink, indifference to my career,rnbut simply recognizing reality forrnwhat it must be for me.rnWhile one suspects Jeffrey Meyers—rnwhose favorite authors are D.H. Lawrence,rnThomas Mann, Wyndham Lewis,rnAndre Malraux, and Hemingway —rnJANUARY 2001/31rnrnrn