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Norman Podhoretz and Jack Kerouac

January 24, 1987

Norman Podhoretz has made his intellectual career supplying, with never even the suggestion of wit or irony, high-voltage literary polemics for the sort of Babbitry and thick-headedness no longer loudly praised in public, it would seem; what has interrupted our concentration, he tells us, reprovingly, is Jack Kerouac! Why his horrible likeness now stands in his home town square, where everybody can see it!

Surely Podhoretz is the "angry old man" of his set. He rallies to the defense of all good things against Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, those gentle souls, those "Pied Pipers of Despair," those corrupters of youth.

Of course, it is Podhoretz who is the gloomy personage. "Do not deviate, do not listen to those who deviate," he warns, "our fathers were here before us, and their steps are the only way. . . ." He has built a philosophical bunker from which his opinions emanate. I suppose it is annoying to him, just now and then, that some people, perhaps Kerouac or Ginsberg, would think he is quite funny after all.

RONALD BLOOM

Los Angeles

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