Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, October 25, 2002

I mean the people who are sooooo strokable.

Phil Adams's minders must send out questionnaires. For every thousand they find at least one who can engage in a stroking session with the Gastropod without either of them having to make an effort.

Today's little discovery is William Gass. That's right.

Never heard of him? He's written a novel that drew an empassioned critical response whatever that is.

Gass has has just retired from the directorship of the International Writers Centre at Washington University, Missouri, where he was also the David May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities – with an expertise in Greek philosophy. He is the recipient of two National Book Critics Circle Awards and the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award.

Yes, but what does the man do?

Well, he's interested in fascism. Not the Mussolini mob, or the Hitler psychos, not even the Islamofascists, or the Marxist-fascists.

He is interested in the fascism of the American breakfast table. Don't ask me.

You know you're in the middle of a major mud-wrestle when Phil says things like: It's a miracle that the US stayed democratic during the Great Depression.

I wish I could have put some money on that "miracle".