P.J. O'Rourke

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I know, whatever, conservatives are Pure Evil -- but come on, I got a free copy of Age and Guile beat Youth Innocence etc and it's FUNNY and I think O'Rourke has an interesting perspective on novelists vs. journalists and I'm thinking, hm, had he been born a generation earlier could he have been the American Kingsley Amis?

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Friday, 19 March 2004 04:22 (eighteen years ago) link

no, ann, a generation ago he was writing shitty humor pieces for the national lampoon and editing it into the ground!

Begs2Differ (Begs2Differ), Friday, 19 March 2004 05:31 (eighteen years ago) link

Nah, all he proves is that a bratty youth grows older, not up. He's still a brat who doesn't want to share his toys or clean up after himself. He's simply translated his adolescent selfishness into antisocial antienvironmentalism.
The best comedy has some humanity in it, but his comedy is all about flinty heartedness. And that's not funny.

Dale, Friday, 19 March 2004 08:53 (eighteen years ago) link

Well, he made me laugh. Holidays in Hell was a great idea for a book, but began to grate after a while.

I always thought he had quite a British sense of humour. I don't think I can explain what I mean by that though.

Mikey G (Mikey G), Friday, 19 March 2004 10:01 (eighteen years ago) link

Where did I read of piece of his in the last month that made me laugh? I've not found him funny in years and years (we are poles apart politically) but he had a good one in Atlantic Monthly? Harpers? The New Yorker? recently. I know, very helpful to post something this vague. I'm recovering from a migraine and the pain and the meds still retain their respective holds on my faculties.

Rabin the Cat (Rabin the Cat), Friday, 19 March 2004 21:53 (eighteen years ago) link

There's a terrific slagging of O'Rourke by Hitchens in For the Sake of Argument, I'll try and find the text online.

Chuck Tatum (Chuck Tatum), Saturday, 20 March 2004 00:20 (eighteen years ago) link

The thing is, the other writer he reminds me of is John O'Farrell (wrote Global Village Idiot), who does sort of the same job except at the other end of the political spectrum and the other side of the pond. They both start to grate on you in sort of the same way, and they're both charming in sort of teh same way -- it's like they're going "yeah, I have to pick one team or the other if I'm going to keep my job as a funny political commentator, but if I'm going to stay funny I can't always shoot blindly for my team because then I'll have to be full of shit in a sanctimonious way and that's not very funny, is it?" Both of 'em, when they grate, it just seems that I've read too much of them at once and I'm sick of their politics, or else because they've let the humor and truth side of things slide to be true to their school (of thought, pardon the Beach Boys quote). I guess I find O'Rourke less obnoxious than I find a lot of liberals is because liberals' opinions are generally more like mine, so it's embarrassing when they insist on being wrongheaded. "I agree with this guy... or so I thought, till he said THAT." Whereas I can appreciate O'Rourke's humor cringe-free. And some of his arguments against my opinions do hold some water, and isn't it nice to rethink your set views once in a while?

But to get back to my original thought: if American letters weren't so )#(&*)$ pretentious maybe he could've made it as a comic novelist. Arguably he'd have done more good and less damage than as a political commentator. Isn't it generally dangerous for a writer to have to rationalize a certain political viewpoint for a living?

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Saturday, 20 March 2004 01:41 (eighteen years ago) link

no, ann, a generation ago he was writing shitty humor pieces for the national lampoon and editing it into the ground!
-- Begs2Differ (cibul...), March 19th, 2004.


No, I said had he been born a generation earlier. I just about died laughing when I realized what O'Rourke's "youthful" photo on the front of "Youth vs. Guile" reminded me of: an uglier-mugged version of Martin Amis's photo on the back of his first novel! O'Rourke is roughly the age of Kingley's son, in other words, and they wound up with the same fashion sense. (O'Rourke can't help that he was never as comely as Martin -- and then, neither was Kingsley. Maybe being rejected by girls causes conservativism later in life? Then maybe getting laid all the time causes irritating, blathering liberalism...)

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Saturday, 20 March 2004 02:45 (eighteen years ago) link

He used to be flinty, funny and sh1t-stirring (in a good way). Now he's just strying to be funny, but a middle aged conservative going to seed is not funny.

Holidays in Hell was good. Republican Party Reptile was good. Age and Guile was good -- mostly because most of it was written 20 or 30 years ago.

Try read his newer stuff, like CEO of the Sofa. It's LAAAAAME! Trying too hard, views are too boringly, mundanely middle-aged. Jokes are trite. Material is a) cliched or b) dated.

RodjaDodja, Saturday, 20 March 2004 23:16 (eighteen years ago) link

four weeks pass...
I defer to those who preceded me because I have not read PJOR for some years. But I have just discovered this site and saw his name and had to reply. He is great, isn't he? Come on! I remember one of his pieces that had Madame and Monsieur Curie in it. Something about going out with them socially...."They glowed," he said. I howled.

Come on, he IS funny.

Hey, I'm asking this for a friend, but was he in a fraternity at UMiami?

Becky Willis, Monday, 19 April 2004 21:41 (eighteen years ago) link

seventeen years pass...

twitter is saying he's dead, and also twitter is saying he'd not dead

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 15 February 2022 22:27 (three months ago) link

can we choose?

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Tuesday, 15 February 2022 23:30 (three months ago) link

I always thought he was trying to be a right-wing Hunter Thompson; he did write for Rolling Stone, after all. He did manage to ape some of Hunter's wit, but missed completely his razor-sharp political insight and basic humanity.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Tuesday, 15 February 2022 23:37 (three months ago) link

Not to mention, Hunter was a really fucking good writer. P.J. is . . . not really fucking good.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Tuesday, 15 February 2022 23:37 (three months ago) link


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