JP Donleavy died earlier this month at the age of 91. About a half-century ago he wrote The Ginger Man, another of those great racketing novels from the British Isles about charismatic and sodden rakes. It had the unusual distinction of being highly praised in print by both Dorothy Parker and Hunter S. Thompson, who knew a few things about booze and wit.
In any case, Donleavy proffered some sound advice about those pursing his craft to a magazine in the late 1970s:
Writing is turning one’s worst moments into money.
Once upon a time, in the land of Iowa, there were people who thought that Rick Perry might become president of these United States. It was a strange time, the 2012 GOP Iowa caucus, and something that you really wish that Hunter S. Thompson had still been alive to see and write about.
In the meantime, there’s Caucus, a fly-on-the-wall documentary about all the sun-baked, deep-fried, conservative weirdness. It’s playing now in limited release. My full review is at Film Journal International; here’s part:
The 2011 Iowa State Fair captured in AJ Schnack’s Caucus has a frozen-in-amber quality. Just a little of those butter sculptures, livestock demos, and toddling families baking in the bright prairie sun go a long way. What stands out are those interlopers stalking the fairgrounds, grinning and gripping any who come within range, cameras and recorders buzzing like flies. There’s something highly alien about mixing these politicians’ bright and buffed ambitions with the laidback surroundings. It makes for some surreal flashes in the film, like the hippie protesters drumming in the distance, or when an announcer booms out an introduction for “the next President of the United States…Michele Bachmann!”…