I sat upstairs in the observation area and read a book about Atlantic City – my editor at Crown gave it to me a few years ago, and it’s been in the pile since then. It’s nonfiction, as are most of the books I read nowadays. Fiction seems like a peculiar luxury; I’d rather read a biography of a man who developed Long Island than read Gatsby again. Difference between reading about bones and reading about hair, it seems.
Leaving aside the ludicrous and contemptuous claim that fiction is a "luxury" (and its implication that we are serious men who live in serious times who have not a moment to spare for the frivolous piffle of make-believe, as if storytelling hasn't been an essential quality of human existence since the caveman), what the hell does that last sentence mean? Not only don't I get the premise (was there some scientific study done that proved once and for all that bones are qualifiably more interesting than hair, or vice versa, and I missed it?), which is bones and which is hair? I'm baffled by this metaphor. It's the sort of thing one encounters in bad poetry or, dare I say, fiction. (Of course, I'm sure Lileks status as a failed novelist has nothing to do with his scorn for fiction.)
Then, hearing two words in as many seconds spill out of the mouth of a woman he doesn't know at his daughter's swim class, he takes the opportunity to engage in bizarre xenophobia blended with never-out-of-fashion commie-bashing:
The usual group of Moms, except for one who looked to have transported in from 1957. Then she spoke: Russian. Made sense. She didn’t look like modern Russian overlacquered hussies, but rather an example of the Yuri Gagarin-era defrosted and deposited in this humid room. The skirt looked cheap and chafing, the blouse pattern nothing we ever saw over here, done in Holy Red; the hair was unstylish in a way you’d get if you wanted to cross “glamour” with Soviet practicality. She looked to be 36, 39, and I wondered if this was an example of cultural retro chic, just as hip moms today wear tie-dies or Capri pants. It was really quite fascinating; you could extrapolate the entire pathetic sad 60s Soviet culture from her appearance. She could have been the wife of an inner-party member sitting on a park bench watching the son run around in his Komsomol uniform, drinking in the weak broth of a Leningrad morning sun.
Oh, those pathetic sad commies! They were so evil that even now, a dozen years after the fall of Russian communism, they leave a legacy of unstylishly dressed moms! Why, even their sunlight was of an inferior quality to ours! Not that today's Russian woman is any improvement, of course -- they are all overlacquered hussies. Give me an AMERICAN broad, with comfortably familiar blouse patterns and soul-soothing clamdiggers instead of cheap skirts. God bless the U.S.A.!
He ends with a typical hysterical screed about traitorous, cynical liberal reporters spoiling our war plans and a patented Lileksical doom-threat about how the Korean Islamofascists are going to set off a nuke on Broadway, but I'll spare you that -- you've read it a hundred times before, and he's written it a thousand times before.