Sunday, October 03, 2004
Queenan on the Civil War
Here's a link to my favorite piece on Civil-War buffery (buffdom?), Joe Queenan's The Civil War Sucks! Since this piece was published in 1994, Queenan has kind of run his guy-who-hates-everything schtick into the ground; most of his books and essays in the last decade are basically rehashes of his early work for Spy (which no longer exists) and Movieline (which has changed its name). For a while, his literary persona, as a smart guy enraged by the feeble bromides and second-rate tastes of Middle America (tm), was extremely entertaining; the problem is that it's a limited target, and because Queenan doesn't have much ability to make fun of things he actually likes -- he can mock Merchant-Ivory or Woody Allen or other midcult bores, but when it comes to moviemakers he likes, he mostly just nods respectfully and becomes another bland thumbs-upper -- he doesn't have a lot of material to work with. But his best stuff, like the Civil War piece and "Mickey Rourke For a Day," an account of a day he spent imitating Mickey Rourke (dark glasses, angry attitude, copious use of the word "motherfucker"), is still extremely funny, as long as you're not too attached to his chosen target.