Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Leo Rosten: Insufferable.

Last week I picked up a used copy of Leo Rosten's People I Have Loved, Known or Admired from the one dollar racks in front of the Strand. Yippee, I thought. I had liked The Joys of Yiddish when I found it in my grandparent's basement in Kokomo, IN. So clever, so vibrant, so Jewy. But as I started reading Rosten's book, I realized this guy is truly terrible. All the corny jokes, the volubility, the wisecracking that is lovable when my grandfather does not age well. Read years later, it comes across as bad, undisciplined, try-y writing. One opening paragraph in particular is intolerable.

I've known Wilbur since he was knee high to a romalea microptera--and the fact that I write "Romalea microptera" instead of grasshopper shows you the peculiar influence he (Wilbur, not the grasshopper) has had on my life.

It's like someone is doing that sharp-shooter motion and clicking their tongue after every sentence. Oy!