Patterico's Pontifications

5/18/2008

Ron George: My God, I Am Courageous!

Filed under: Buffoons,Constitutional Law,Court Decisions — Patterico @ 11:27 am

The L.A. Times has a puff-piece interview with Ron George, the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court and the swing vote in the gay marriage decision:

[A]s he read the legal arguments, the 68-year-old moderate Republican was drawn by memory to a long ago trip he made with his European immigrant parents through the American South. There, the signs warning “No Negro” or “No colored” left “quite an indelible impression on me,” he recalled in a wide-ranging interview Friday.

“I think,” he concluded, “there are times when doing the right thing means not playing it safe.”

Oh, that quote says it all. The overwhelming sense of self-satisfaction . . . it just drips from off of your computer screen.

It could be Anthony Kennedy, basking in the glow of a reporter’s adulation and his own sense of his own courage.

What it doesn’t sound like, is a judge reading the text of a document and making a decision about what it means.

JCG: Other States Need Not Honor California Gay Marriages

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Court Decisions — Patterico @ 11:12 am

As a matter of federal constitutional law, do gay marriages performed in California have to be honored in, say, Texas? Jan Crawford Greenburg says no.

New Book by Tobias Wolff

Filed under: Books,General — Patterico @ 11:05 am

I recently bought a (relatively) new book by American author Tobias Wolff, called “Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories.”

I am a fan; I have read every book Wolff has published. Wolff is best known as the author of “This Boy’s Life,” a memoir of his days growing up in the Pacific Northwest. It was made into a movie with Robert DeNiro, who plays Dwight, Wolff’s abusive stepfather.

I had the privilege of hearing Wolff give a reading in the late 1980s, and asked him afterwards whether he was worried about Dwight attacking him in retaliation for the brutal was the book portrays him. (Dwight has since died.) Wolff said that he wasn’t, really — but not because Dwight wasn’t a violent man; he was. Wolff wasn’t worried because in the entire time he had lived with Dwight, he had never once seen Dwight pick up a book. So he figured Dwight had no idea the book had even been published.

The new book has 21 of Wolff’s previously published stories, and 10 new ones. This excerpt from a Publisher’s Weekly review captures the essence of the collection and of Wolff’s style:

The 10 spare, elegant new stories here, collected with 21 stories from Wolff’s three previous collections, are as good as anything Wolff has done. In most, there is a moment of realization, less a startling epiphany than a distant, gradual ache of understanding, that changes how the character looks at the world.

In a “Note from the Author” Wolff says that he has taken the liberty of improving the old stories if he saw ways to do so. I’m alternating between reading new stories and rediscovering old ones.

I don’t know how many of you are Wolff fans, but if you enjoy fiction where every word means something and every observation and portrait rings true, Wolff is your man. He’s one of the best writers in the world, in my estimation, and a new book by him is something to celebrate. Pick it up at Amazon here, or get it at your favorite bookstore.


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