Hey Pete, Dreadful Show~
I have to weigh in with a bit of a raised eyebrow that you weren’t aware of author Martin Amis when John Avlon brought him up yesterday. Fair enough, as it’s always refreshing to hear you (and too few others) own and confess to areas of expertise and erudition where you, as well as all of us, sometimes find ourselves lacking or without more formidable knowledge. Curiosity is a golden resource, which you recognize and remind your listeners of regularly. I’m now a reader of over a dozen new writers/journalists with whom you and your listeners have made me familiar.
I was a bit surprised, because you seem to put a high premium on soul-stirring and mind/game changing narratives, and in the wake of Vaclav Havel’s recent passing, which in fact was the context of your and Johns’ conversation, there is acknowledgement of the worth of great artists—writers, thinkers, poets, musicians as well as eloquent activists--in the realization of real societal change--they, the real warriors in the battle for hearts and minds, if you will. Amis is truly one of those.
I was happily surprised to hear that John A and Martin A were buds. I’ve read many, but not all, of Martin's books, fiction and non-fiction, and have just completed The House of Meetings…which is a wonderful novel tale of a love triangle involving brothers who each spent time in Stalin’s camps. I feel that London Fields is his most sure-handed and most realized accomplishment, although all his books are masterfully written, full of wit, irony, tears, and magnificent and masterful wordcraft. Time’s Arrow is, unfortunately, the one book that is read by many whom only have read one of his works. It is a gem, though.
An added irony is that Llewellyn King, who like John, was subbing for you while you were on vacation, was listing authors whose language and philosophies served as salient examples of great language and societal examination. I was compelled to call in when he mentioned Kingsley Amis (Martin’s father), as one of his favorites (the English teacher from Texas, as I recall, was unaware of him) and I was eager to discuss language—linguistics in particular. I waited...and waited until The King connected, apologised, then was his usual gracious and affable self, albeit in the last minute of his show.
In my travels as a performer, I cross paths with many journalists, statesmen and politicos, collaborate with some, and have cultivated lasting friendships with a handful. Two in particular, on different occasions, were slow to recognize Llewellyn King’s name when I brought it up, as I do frequently due to my highest regard for his work, as well as his wonderfully entertaining style of commentary. They came to, of course, when I mentioned his show, White House Chronicle. He is a golden resource in a field of tinfoil, and POTUS is smart to enlist his gifts. Folks will be ever increasingly aware of him, thanks to you all.
Pick up on Martin Amis, you’ll be very glad you did.
And, speaking of narrative and framing, and if you’ve yet to do so, please see about getting linguist George Lakoff onto the show. Hell, why not Martin Amis? He and Avlon together would be profoundly wondrous.
Jon Carroll Jon in Leesburg, Va www.joncarroll.org