A few years ago I read a couple of books containing letters and replies to and from Ronald Reagan. I was fascinated by these writings and was quite surprised that the leader of the free world would take the time to actually reply to some of the mail he got. It opened up another side of Reagan to me – a more personal side.
Last week I was strolling through DFW and happened upon Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription by William F. Buckley Jr. As I posted that last link to Amazon I notice that I paid $4 too much at the airport. Oh well, I had to have it for that flight.
CYOGS is a book full of oddities and letters and replies that filled the pages of NRO when Buckley was running the show there. Some of the letters are personal, but all of the replies show Buckley’s great sense of humor and knowledge of all things linguistic.
April 11, 1975:
Dear Mr. Buckley,
I am a teacher with credentials in English, political science, history, mathematics, humanities and Japanese, and yet I barely have the ability to decipher your vulgar prose.
I can’t recall ever having seen such an obvious search for and display of archaic vocabulary and overall obfuscation in an apparent attempt to be “the learned one.” You stink!
You are a complete joke, a pedant, a phony conservative.
You’re an upstart. You may be a New Englander and a Yale man, but, in no way do you have the class of a Cox, a Richardson, or even a Kennedy.
John M. Herlihy
Dear Mr. Herlihy: Sorry. English, political science, history, mathematics, humanities and Japanese are not quite enough. But don’t give up, Herlihy. Don’t ever give up. – WFB
The book also has some more serious letters, but most of it is odds and ends like this example. If you are a fan of Buckley, I suggest putting this one in your next box from Amazon. It is a very easy and quick read, and is an interesting sidetrip into the mind of WFB.