Critic John Leonard: Splendid, Libidinal

At the lively, elegiac, and author-studded memorial service held for the critic John Leonard in the church-like confines of Central Park West's Landmark on the Park, Leonard's son, Andrew, read a sad, playful eulogy that began:

    I recently completed a comprehensive computer analysis of my father's collected works and confirmed what I have long only suspected: 97.4 percent of everything that ever emanated from his typewriter, keyboard or mouth can be safely ignored. All that verbiage is utilitarian scaffolding, employed to hold up 10 critical words.

    They are:

    Tantrum

    Cathedral

    Linoleum

    Moxie

    Thug

    Dialectic

    Splendid

    Brood

    Libidinal

    and Qualm

Words such as "kayak" and "aikido," "guppy" and "rutabaga," were disqualified, apparently, on technical grounds: "I am unaware of any physical evidence proving John Leonard was ever within 50 yards of a kayak, and the only time he suffered the discipline of the dojo was when witnessing his granddaughter perform her kata." The entire, illuminating essay is posted at Salon, where the younger Leonard is on staff.


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