From the Village Voice (October 10, 1974). — J.R.
A book by Dwight Macdonald
by Jonathan Rosenbaum
Dwight Macdonald’s latest collection of articles is a sequel of sorts to his Politics Past — political-cultural and incidental literary criticism that composes a loose chronicle of the times, taking in a span of nearly five decades.
I blush a little to admit it today, but Dwight Macdonald was the first film critic I ever took seriously. He liked Citizen Kane, Breathless and Shadows and so did I, but I think the clincher was his prose — a rare kind of magazine writing, bursting with energy, that danced or sang or clowned regardless of what it was saying, with a fine ear for polemics and invective. This latter talent has gradually become known as his specialty. More humanistic and less of a school marm than John Simon and a lot more folksy and homespun than Gore Vidal, he shares with them the status of Master of the Chopping Block. (For the best whacks, see my favorite Macdonald collection, Against the American Grain [much of it recently reprinted, in 2011, as Masscult and Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain].)
But he usually takes on a different coloration in his political writing, where his loves and hatreds become more personal and complex — more mutable and prone to reversals or other kinds of second thoughts.… Read more »