February 13, 2004

John Kenneth Galbraith

Let's Talk About Me -- Lillian Hellman wrote the funny (and possibly true) anecdote in which Dashiell Hammett dismissed her desire to someday write a biography of the hard-boiled mystery writer because whatever she wrote would ultimately only turn out to be "the story of Lillian Hellman with an occassional reference to a friend named Hammett." Perhaps this is the dirty little secret of biography writing -- if not, in fact, the not-so-little secret of all writing: writing is a lonely, selfish act; the better writers are simply able to disguise that fact. In "Name-Dropping," the 91-year-old Galbraith proves not to be one of our better writers. Full of self-importance and self-aggrandizement, Galbraith hopscotches from fleeting dealings with FDR and Eleanor to Albert Speer and Adlai Stevenson. I finally walked away from this slim book when I realized that Galbraith is none other than the blundering diplomat, Mr. Farraday, from, "The Remains of the Day."


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