His baseball columns leave the idea running about one’s head that perhaps “the game” — inclusive, singular, and daily renewed by inches — is a perfect metaphor for America itself.
Will does not use his pen like a Louisville Slugger, pounding those thoughts into the reader’s head; he merely guides the reader’s reason with the understated elegance of his wallop-packing prose.
And what prose! Undiluted by the vagaries of biweekly syndication, Will’s essays, read in succession, make the book nothing less than literary swag for lovers of language and wry toss-offs:
On Pope John Paul II: “Beginning in 1978, Europeans saw one man seize history by the lapels and shake it.”
On democracy: “. . . popular government rests on public opinion, which is shiftable sand.”
On totalitarianism: “Totalitarianism is a mortar and pestle for grinding society into a dust of individuals.”On feminism: “Is this the fruit of feminism? A woman at the peak of the academic pyramid becomes theatrically flurried by an unwelcome idea and, like a Victorian maiden exposed to male coarseness, suffers the vapors and collapses on the drawing room carpet in a heap of crinolines until revived by smelling salts and the offending brute’s contrition.”
On college campus conformity: “[Larry Summers] thought he was speaking in a place that encourages uncircumscribed intellectual explorations. He was not. He was on a university campus.”
After stirring the synapses and tickling the intellect, Will — a professed agnostic — closes his collection with two very personal, very moving pieces that manage to sound sacred depths…
You’ll have to read the review to learn how he sounds the “sacred depths” but believe me, he does.
If you enjoyed this really excellent exchange between Will and Stephen Colbert, you’ll love the book, I promise.