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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More excellent reading from a modern master, November 14, 2011
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This review is from: Anything Goes (Kindle Edition)
As must be obvious by now, I read everything by Theodore Dalrymple that I can find. This latest collection of his essays touches on a wide variety of subjects, including some that I have wanted to write about myself. Right up there, near the top of the list, is what I consider the major literary scandal of the twentieth century, the story of that oh-so-pretentious nincompoop Norman Mailer and how he managed to free the convicted murderer Jack Abbott, after which Abbott went and killed again --- this time a totally innocent waiter in a restaurant in a totally stupid argument. Of course, Mailer was very strange about stabbing people: he almost stabbed his wife to death ("but that's OK because he's a WRITER you see!")

A few samples of the Dalrymple wine to whet your appetite:

"There is no end to the oddness of humanity. I once had a patient who injected herself with blood that she took from an HIV positive friend of hers. She wanted the illness, too: why should her friend have all the attention?"

"I am reminded of the story of the Indian civil servant whose desk was piled high with files that were so old than no one ever looked at them, or ever would look at them. They were cluttering up the office terribly, and he asked his boss whether he could throw them away. `Yes,' he replied, `provided you copy them in triplicate.' "

"So resentment allows you to dream on about all you would have achieved if things had been different (better, of course, for no one dreams of how little they would have achieved had things been worse)."

This last thought seems particularly accurate to me: after all, no one lies around dreaming about how everything could have been worse, and how he might have been a total failure in life. No, it's always "if only I had X" or "if only I had Y," --- oh, how magnificently things might have worked out.

Finally, as an indication of how uncannily relevant the author can be, read the following and think about the "Occupy Whatever" phenomenon in America:

"Now it is my belief, in part deriving from attending to the motions of my own mind, that resentment is pre-eminently the emotion or mode of feeling and thought of our time. When the social historians of the future, if there are any, come to characterise our era they will not call it the age of the atomic bomb, or the financial derivative age, or even that of the 100 per cent mortgage, they will call it the Age of Resentment. For everyone is on the qui vive for the supposed causes of his victim status that are deep-seated, beyond not only his control but beyond repair, at least without a total revolution in human affairs."

Very highly recommended, indeed.
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