29 July 2008

The Two-Café Problem

Ross Douthat on Adam Gopnik:

"He's a classic example of the cosmopolitan as provincial: He has something clever to say about everything under the sun, but where something more than cleverness is called for he's often at a loss, or else inappropriately facile. His breadth is astonishing, his depth considerably less so; he's a liberal ironist who often seems unable to imagine how anyone could have ever been anything else."

I'm sure he's right, but I stubbornly love Gopnik's whimsical observations and grandiose conclusions (i.e. "A scowling gray universe relieved by pastry"), much to the dismay of a few close friends. He not only introduced me to G.K. Chesterton, but also to the forgotten brilliance and wit of William Dean Howells's fiction, and, most importantly, Charlie Ravioli.

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