I could have been shot

or at least badly reviewed, for collapsing in hysterical laughter in my seat on a subway train when I read this in the New Yorker.

But I can’t think of any passage of comic prose where the tone is more perfectly pitched than here: “In his personal life, Auden was Peck’s Bad Boy, in and out of trouble with the law. His sad, gentle eyes and seamed face gave no indication of the trouble in store if you messed with him. His mother, who supported him throughout his career, always said that the literary rivals Auden shot would have done the same to him if he had given them the chance. Certainly, there was some truth in that. Auden himself blamed his legal difficulties on his fame, and on minor poets and other scribblers who wanted to hang out with him and whom he didn’t even know. When a dispute over the acceptability of an off-rhyme led to gunplay, Auden was always the one authorities came looking for.”

It’s not just the intrinsic delight of the subject matter, but the contrast in tone between the, melancholy falling cadence of the prose with a story normally told in aggressively chromed self-pity.

I want an audiobook of Garrison Keillor reading Tupac Shakur.

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2 Responses to I could have been shot

  1. Louise says:

    I was disappointed that it didn’t have my favourite by WB Yeats

    Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths
    Enwrought with golden and with silver light
    The blue the dim and the dark cloths
    Of night and light and the half-light
    I would lay those cloths under yo feet,
    Tread Lightly mo’fucker,
    Or I will strike down upon thee
    with great vengeance and furious anger
    And you will know my name is the Lord
    when I lay my vengeance upon thee

    I believe it was a trip he used to lay on cats before he popped a cap in their ass. Maud Gonne loved it.

  2. Andrew says:

    But she left him anyway for some badder-assed playa whose posse was better armed.

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