Friday, November 07, 2008

John Leonard, RIP

I've written about John Leonard in this blog a number of times, almost always negatively. His stints as the head of the book review sections in The Nation and Harper's were marked by opinions that often struck me as infuriatingly wrongheaded. I couldn't believe that this guy - with whom, clearly, I shared a lot of interests - could always see down as up, day as night, black as white, right as wrong.

Yet I always came back for more. Leonard was wrong, but he was fascinatingly wrong. He was brilliantly wrong. He was inspiringly wrong. I loved to disagree with him, and what's more, I think he loved being a guy who wrote criticism that made his opponents bring their A-game.

John Leonard died yesterday at 69, which is too young. I feel for his family, who surely wish they had more time with him. His son, Andrew, is the columnist who writes How The World Works for Salon, one of my favorite reads. I'm sorry for Andrew today, and I'm sorry for everyone who knew and loved him.

Phil Nugent has a typically razor-sharp appreciation of Leonard's life at his blog. I don't have Phil's chops and depth of pop culture knowledge, but I'm also going to miss John Leonard. I'm going to miss disagreeing with him.


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