Obiter Dictum

Woman's virtue is man's greatest invention --- Cornelia Otis Skinner

Monday, July 24


I do this crazy thing of reading book reviews after I've read the book. I'm always curious to see what other people have thought of it, and to see if we agree totally, disagree completely, or something in the middle.

So, this morning, I started checking the review for Anderson Cooper's Dispatches from the Edge. I guess I wasn't surprised by what I found. "Self involved narrative" (PW) "Disjointed narrative" (USA Today) and this gem, also from the USA Today: "And there's a big gap at the center of this book: Cooper's personal life. In Dispatches from the Edge, he opens a tantalizing window into his own soul -- but only so far."

So, we don't really care about what you've seen or your own personal tragedy if you don't tell us who you're fucking?

Seriously? That's what we have come down to? I guess I knew that, but I hoped I was just being cynical. USA Today spells it out for me right there. But, just in case I missed the point, Maclean's drives it home in their review as well:

"One topic that is glaringly absent from Dispatches is that of his private life. In particular, Cooper's sexuality has been a source of broad speculation for some time. But it's a subject he refuses to address publicly. "I do my job and that's really what I'm about," he says. "The rest I have no interest in talking about and people can make up their own minds and think what they want."

Jesus Mary and Joseph. I'll grant you that Anderson Cooper is extremely easy on the eyes, but he's not the best looking journalist on planet Earth. He's not even the best looking journo in the US. He's good looking, lots of men are. Do we really have to spend a bunch of time lamenting the fact that we don't know who is between his sheets? If its not me (and its not. Damn you, Anderson!) then who the hell cares?! Its like they're saying "Yeah, yeah. Bosnia. Africa. Tsunamis......people are dying. That's terrible. So, who were you with last night?"

This book is fantastic, but it isn't fun. I'm warning you now. Not a beach read. In fact, you might not want to be around a beach for awhile after reading about his experience from the tsunami hit area. This isn't a textbook on journalism, its a book about a journalist who saw certain parts of the world and wants to talk about it; the effect it had on him. So yeah, it is a bit self involved.....but how can it be anything else? These are his thoughts and opinions and questions and (very few) answers. There are parts of his life shaken throughout the war and natural disaster, and you wonder how a person who has tragedy at home and tragedy at work can keep it together. Of course, with any journalist reporting in this day and age, with disaster upon disaster, man made and natural, there has to be some sort of disconnection. Most people use their family as buffer between the job and sanity. It doesn't seem like he has that luxury. Its depressing, really.

He talks a bit about Hurricane Katrina and that now (in)famous interview he did with Mary Landrieu. I was watching when that was on, and I couldn't believe what was coming out of her mouth either. His attitude, which you could see shift right during the interview, made me sit up and take notice. And, I said to someone that maybe, just maybe, this was the beginning of the media coming back to life. I think I may have been overly optimistic. This is a piece from my Sept. 3 blog post

Anyway, Bill Maher seems to think we have gotten our press corps. back. I think certain members of the press may have woken up (have I mentioned today how much I am loving Anderson Cooper these days?) But, I wouldn't go so far as to say we have them back. If its morning in America, its still very early morning. I'll go so far as to say they're wiping the sleep from their eyes. Good for them. The usual right shills are very, very quiet these days. (What'd ya say, Hannity? Tucker Carlson? Hmmm? I can't hear ya.)

I have to say I'd just noticed his pretty face before then. It wasn't until Katrina that I realized their might be a brain in that head of his and that he might actually give a shit about the things he's reporting on. There are so many smarmy, self righteous, arrogant assholes on talk and news tv these days that cynicism sets in and it takes awhile to believe one of them might be sincere. And, even then, you're afraid to think they're really sincere because you're afraid you'll feel like an idiot when you find out you've been played. But, at some point, you have to believe in something, right?

So, if you're interested in hearing about a first hand account of reporting from world hot spots, and you're not afraid of a little war, disease, tsunami, or suicide.....this is the book for you. I can't speak highly enough about this book. No, I really can't. I won't go so far as to say it'll change your life, but it might make you think about life a little bit more, or a little bit differently.

If you just want to know who Anderson Cooper is fucking, you might want to take a pass.


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