What I'm reading

Parliament of Whores by PJ O’Rourke. There can be few contemporary writers with more epigones than O’Rourke. Just about every newspaper has one these days (for a while, the AFR had two), and the blogosphere is full of variants on the same riff.

O’Rourke himself was a lot funnier in his National Lampoon days, satirising the Left, not exactly from within, but at least from close-up, than he is as a fully paid-up Republican party animal. Still he can always raise a laugh, which is more than can be said for most of his imitators.

11 thoughts on “What I'm reading

  1. You fogot to close a tag.

    I have to agree about PJ. His earlier stuff was by far the best. My fave is Age and Guile Beats Youth, Innocence and a Bad Haircut, followed closely by Eat the Rich.

    (I don’t know how many times I’ve posted almost this exact comment…)

  2. JQ: ‘Still he can always raise a laugh, which is more than can be said for most of his imitators.’

    Hmm, I wonder whom that could have been a subtle dig at?:)

  3. Variously described as ‘Hunter S Thompson’s heir apparent’, ‘Hunter S Thompson’s sick love-child’, and ‘Hunter S Thompson lite’, he’s a talent, which is more than can be said for that guy in the Fin, who’s jokes I now know so well I could make a much better fist of them myself.

  4. I remember Christopher Hitchens describing O’Rourke as ‘a jeerer for the winning team’, or something like that.

  5. That would be Ruel and Imre (at the AFR)? Ruel is at least often funny. Not so the other one. I don’t think podgy, spoilt middle class literature lecturers are really in the running to be antipodean PJ O’Rourkes, no matter how many cones they pulled in the ’70s.

    Mr Blair probably considers himself a PJ too.

  6. Ruehl is funny. I’m amused that people think he’s a PJ – just goes to show how leftish Australians are – when he’s a registered Democrat. More a centrist, Clinton democrat than any sort of republican

  7. I though Ruehl was funny, oh, about 10 years ago … he either ran out of material or never recovered from his stint in the Sunday Tele … these days he’s about as funny as, well, a heavy metal band … or a democrats conference … or Otis after a weekend on the wagon …

  8. PJ’s best work was probably Ship Of Fools: his take on a boat cruise down the Volga with a bunch of western lefties. He wrote it in 1982 (I think) when Brezhnev was in power. For the time, he had worthy targets of ridicule: the Communists, and the self-deluding lefties besides him. That’s his only piece that’s laugh out loud today. For one fleeting moment, his humour and his Republicanism was perfectly in sync.

    What a sad shadow of a comedian he is today. Okay, he had a few good jabs at Clinton in the nineties… but nowdays I don’t find him that funny. The problem is that he’s more likely to sacrifice the laffs for his “hippie-born-again-Right-wing” schick. His problem is that humor is far more fitting at targeting power than suporting it. And he doesn’t even realize it. Hell, he ended up working at The Weekly Standard. What a way to sell your soul.

    As for Thompson – yes, he leant towards the Democrats, but he was willing to jab at them as well. He’d be as venemous towards Mayor Daley and Hubert Humphrey almost as much as he would be to Nixon.

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