I've long described Florence King as my favorite living writer (my favorite writer, period, is Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, who -- probably not coincidentally -- also wrote for "National Review" for many years). Yet I have avoided reviewing her books here, not only for fear of not doing them justice, but also because so much of how I try to review books has come from reading Florence King's own reviews. At what point is the pupil ready to grade the master?
Reviews are an art at which Miss King excels, which is why I was so happy to discover an advertisement for "Deja Reviews" a few months ago. This volume is a wonderful companion to "STET, Damnit!," the collection of her "Misanthrope's Corner" columns NR published a couple of years ago. "Deja Reviews" assembles about five-dozen pieces from NR and "The American Spectator." Most of them are reviews, but there are also a number of non-review essays including some NR pieces that weren't in the "Misanthrope's Corner."
Miss King is sharp of eye, wit, and pen. She famously has no patience with idiocy, and best of all possesses a wonderful facility with the language. I was about to call it a "gift," but I imagine she might object, rightly, to that word: she has worked hard over many years to hone her skills. It's not a "gift," but the product of time, energy, and mental commitment. I remember her writing once in the "Misanthrope's Corner" that she turned down invitations to go on television to discuss one or another of her columns. "If I had anything more to say, I'd have put it in the piece." I so admire Miss King not only for what she writes, but also for the effort she puts into her writing.
Her effort and skill make for a great reading experience. You don't have to be familiar with the books she's reviewing to enjoy what she's written about them. These essays are up to her usual high standards for style, humor, and dead-eye insight. As with her earlier collection, there's no index in this book, but that just means I'll once again be filling the flyleaves with my own notations. I imagine I'll learn a lot more about the art of book reviewing, and have a wonderful, entertaining time doing it.
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About the reviewer
Andrew S. Rogers (Cascadian)
Mostly, I'm a moderately prolific Amazon.com reviewer who's giving Lunch a try as another venue for my reviews.
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Great writing is timeless, and so it is with Deja Reviews. Fifteen years later, five years, no matter how "old" her review, no matter how dated the topic of an essay, readers of this hearty collection will find that Miss Florence King's sharp, crafted prose still dazzles, sizzles, and edures, which is why she finds herself in the exclusive company of great American writers and humorists, such as Dorothy Parker, H. L. Mencken, and Westbrook Pegler, renowned for not suffering fools gladly.
Deja Reviews is a compilation of the book reviews and essays Miss King wrote between 1991 and 2002 for National Review and The American Spectator. It is a joy—a duty! a service!—to republish these treasured pieces...