Mea Culpa

Dear Norman,

This is the second (and probably the last) time I have written to you. The first time was way back in tumultuous 1968 when, as a kind of review of your book Making It, for the Hollins Critic, I wrote you an open letter entitled "My Silk Purse and Yours; Making It, Starring Norman Podhoretz." When I collected that same review as the title piece of a gathering of literary criticism in 1992, I didn't really change anything, but had to admit in a headnote that

Podhoretz has gone a long way, in his own way, since Making It (1968). My piece no longer applies . . . Making It was not a "bad" book. I seem to have thought it was unintentionally funny in many ways that our late twentieth century world is unintentionally funny and unbearably sad.

One of the recurring motifs of this new book, your fifth since then, is how many people bombed Making It, mostly, it seems, because they simply refused to allow the validity and integrity of your argument in that book that the intellectuals and the literati, including, of course, yourself, are most powerfully driven by personal ambition whether they admit it or not. You admitted it and took some heat for telling the plain truth. The people that you call "The Family" in Ex-Friends seem, by and large, to have been more than a little unhappy to have been exposed to your pitiless light.


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