The Pequod Review:
James Wolcott's memoir, Lucking Out, is full of cheap take-downs and strained metaphors — "Joan Dideon's mystery cult was so without humor that it didn't know what to do when humor came knocking." It is a repellent journalistic style that has thankfully begun to fade away, despite the best efforts of people like Matt Taibbi and the writers at Deadspin. But Wolcott nonetheless lived in interesting times — 1970s New York City, in the middle of the New Wave music scene and the Village Voice-centered underground media world — and he has some good observations:
At the [Village] Voice, the answer to the pukewarm pieties of official liberalism and the remedy for boredom were the unofficial individuality of locals sounding off in print as if the paper were their personal mike. Anticipating the blogosphere, the Voice thinned the distinction between professional keyboard peckers and stir-crazy amateurs in fifth-floor walk-ups, presenting a Beat-flavored alternative to the vaunted notion of the author as member of a sacred novitiate whose brow was sprinkled with the beneficent ashes of Lionel Trilling’s cigarette...
The fact that so many sharp brains—I recognized some of the names as belonging to occasional Voice contributors—were mining the same Nixon-fucking-the-Constitution-and/or-Rose Mary Woods fantasies showed that the imaginative lodes of collective fantasy were much thinner and chalkier than I had thought, that there was much more mental conformity below the surface than one would have guessed from all the flying elbows being thrown from these gag writers. Everybody seemed to be staring at the same targets through the same pair of binoculars.
Shelved at Twenty-eighth Street just off a motley stretch of Fifth Avenue, the Latham belongs to one of those square, unfabled pockets of Manhattan that never quite got around to developing a personality.