You ask a Southern Man, and he won’t tell you, but he models himself on Gary Cooper in High Noon, the Marlboro Man in his stoic doom, or the Terminator, silent (or at least inarticulate), slow-moving (except when there’s trouble), and resilient always. The Rugged Individualist.

I sort of see him as Elisha Cook, Jr, the Worried Man.

The gunsel pawn in Maltese Falcon, the unwily bank clerk in One-Eyed Jacks, the nervous cuckold who spoils the game in The Killing, and the blustery sodbuster in Shane, who must compensate for a lack of stature with bravado. None of his stunts work our very well for Worried Man.

The modern version prefers the Grand Ole Opry to Grand Opera and NASCAR to Carnegie Hall, but there is one area which intersects the blue and red circles. Literacy. While Stonewall denigrates the practice of reading back home (Dohbya repeats the eternal mantra of morons: "Ah read paypul, not books!"), he is reluctant to carry his ignorance onto a national stage. The ignoranti become "voracious readers" when confronted by the effete Eastern Establishment. From Bartleby to the eerie maid in Chabral’s La Cérémonie (a Ruth Rendel novel), everyone fears being thought illiterate.

LBJ liked to chortle about his cabinet meetings, in which a circle of Harvard and Yale was completed by San Marcos State, and guess which one was in charge. But here is a report on his reading from The Best and the Brightest:

Hugh Sidey of Life, who had written of Kennedy’s reading habits, decided to do a similar article on Johnson’s. He started with George Reedy, who told him that yes, Johnson was an avid reader. What books? Sidey asked. All Reedy could think of was Barbara Ward’s The Rich Nations and the Poor Nations, a book on how the rich should help the poor which Johnson liked because it was similar to his own ideas. From there Sidey went to see Moyers. Yes, said Moyers, he was an avid reader. What books? Well, there was Barabara Ward’s book The Rich Nations and the Poor Nations. And from there to Valenti, who said Johnson read more books than almost anyone he knew. What books? Valenti hesitated and thought for a moment, then his face lit up. Barbara Ward’s The Rich Nations and the Poor Nations

And here we have Simple Sarah, who could not in months come up with a single magazine she reads, stumping for herself as a "voracious reader" in a People interview.

How do you get that knowledge?
SP: I’m a voracious reader, always have been. I appreciate a lot of information. I think that comes from growing up in a family of schoolteachers also where reading and seizing educational opportunities was top on my parents’ agenda. That was instilled in me.

What do you like to read?

SP: Autobiographies, historical pieces – really anything and everything. Besides the kids and sports, reading is my favorite thing to do.

What are you reading now?
SP: I’m reading, heh-heh, a lot of briefing papers on a lot of issues that are in front of us in this campaign.

What about for fun?
SP: Do we consider The Looming Tower something that was just for fun? That’s what I’ve been reading on the airplane. It’s about 9/11. If I’m going to read something, for the most part, it’s something beneficial.

And of course we have his subaltern trying to sell the Crawford Cretin as a reader. "He reads more books than I do."

Someone who dines three times a day at McDonald’s will show the effect of the habit, as will anyone who spends long hours in a gym. There will be also some result from reading, which is why these Stonewalls are so sensitive about it. But whatever can be the point of self-proclaimed literacy, when those who actually practice the habit will know you’re lying and those who don’t will not care?



Smalltown Texan, Blackland Prairie, a senior. Sometimes I have trouble keeping up. Married, with Rottie/Pit. Reading, and some writing, that's me.