There was a piece in last Sunday’s New York Times in which Norman Podhoretz reminisced about the days when passions ran high at serious literary parties. Fists were known to fly. That’s Podhoretz below:
He once gave Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March a bad review. That’s Bellow, below:
Podhoretz says in the New York Times piece, “Bellow wouldn’t speak to me for years. It was only when he decided he couldn’t stand Alfred Kazin anymore that we became sort of friendly. We were sitting together in a meeting, Saul and I, and Kazin was over there, and he said, ‘Look at him, he looks like he just ate a pastrami sandwich out of a stained brown piece of paper’ …” That’s Kazin below:
Now, I suspect I’m not alive to all the ethnic and social ramifications at play here because I don’t see what’s so wrong with looking like you just ate a pastrami sandwich. I mean I’m not sure there’s only one way a person might look having just eaten a pastrami sandwich; but I imagine contented would be one of them. And what's wrong with that? So maybe the problem’s with the stained brown piece of paper. Is that a class thing? Maybe. But surely a good pastrami sandwich is always likely to be wet and runny, and to stain whatever it’s wrapped in, isn’t it? Anybody got any views?