Shoddy Goods, Shoddy Selves

Victor Navasky’s memoirs, which discuss his longtime relation to the Nation and how he came to publish that magazine, create for the reader two misleading impressions before he gets beyond the dust cover.  Contrary to the blurbs of Bill Moyers, Barbara Ehrenreich, E.L. Doctorow, and Kirkus Reviews, this book is neither “elegant” nor “subversive” nor “entertaining.”  And George McGovern and I obviously read different texts if, in the news-release blurb, he can assert that Navasky has written an “engrossing work” and that “his literary style is masterful.”  Navasky’s is the dreariest tome I have perused since being forced, as a graduate student, to read Bishop Stubbs on English constitutional history.  The writing is self-congratulatory and stylistically minimalist (like Bill Clinton speaking on social programs).  There is no opinion given in this book on McCarthyism, fascism, the Religious Right, or Navasky’s attempt to steer a middle course between holocaust remembrance and Palestinian claims to statehood that is not predictable and vapidly stated.  After a few pages of his colorless prose, Navasky’s leftist party line bounced off me like rainwater hitting a tin roof.

In the opening chapters, Navasky dwells on his family’s incapacity for business.  His father, Macy, loving language, was economically...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here