Monday, July 06, 2009

Joe Queenan had a hard life but he's an honest man.

Here's a great review of Joe Queenan's new book Closing Time: A Memoir in the The American Spectator.

The passage that struck me:

Queenan calls any attempts to romanticize this poverty “a mythology concocted by those who were never poor” and tries to set the record straight...

Queenan doesn’t exempt himself from this judgment. Though he has made it financially and as a writer, he doesn’t believe poverty made him stronger but rather more uncaring and vicious than he otherwise should have been. That viciousness has made him a very effective critic if sometimes not a very lovable one. He attributes his survival as a youth and his success later in life to the Catholic Church, to a few oddball heroic shopkeepers who decided to hire the lad, and to his love of literature—while conceding rather backhandedly that his mum managed to keep the family out of even worse circumstances. Queenan’s intelligence was obvious from an early age and Philadelphia’s Catholic schools kept him out of the violent hellholes that were the city’s public schools. His faith didn’t last but its impact has.

Catholic schools have saved many urban souls. The world would be a horrible place without them. Queenan knows this; so do I. Those who claim to fight for the working class -- oddly by keeping it mired in poverty -- have not a clue.

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