Gertrude Stein, who wasn’t wrong about everything, once asked the rhetorical question: “What do writers want?” And she answered: “Praise, praise, praise, praise, praise.” It’s an occupational hazard, a déformation professionelle, and if it is pointed out that the profession in question is really the full time occupation of being a member of the species homo sapiens sapiens, I would agree, with the qualification that writers are in a category by themselves. (Well, almost by themselves: they share the honor with artists and some others.)
No one ever gets sufficient praise, of course — sufficient, I mean, from a subjective point of view — but writers are surely among the most voracious consumers of what Joseph Epstein (a writer himself) once called “Vitamin P.”
What occasions this chastening thought is the pleasure I’ve been taking these last couple of days from Wilfred McClay’s gratifyingly hyperbolic review of my latest book The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia in the University Bookman, a tradition-minded review that was started several decades ago by the great Russell Kirk.
Check it out. You’ll see why I am second to no one in my admiration of Mr. McClay’s perspicacity, not to mention the wisdom of the editor of that fine literary organ The University Bookman, a venerable site that, I think you’ll agree, should be much better known than it is.
Did I mention that you, too, can participate in this literary festivity by the simple expedient of giving Amazon.com some attention? The hardcover is available for a modest consideration here, the Kindle version for an even more modest consideration here.