“We tether ourselves to others as a path not taken, a dream unfulfilled. A lesson unlearned, a responsibility unmet. We mourn idols as ourselves because even that unachieved road must end.” Paul Taunton has written a heartfelt Hazlitt essay on Frederick Exley, Frank Gifford, and passionate idolatry. Exley’s cult favorite A Fan’s Notes, published in 1988, is a fictional memoir that centers on a quasi-obsession with Gifford, who passed away earlier this week at the age of eighty-four.
“I didn’t know who William Kelley was when I found that book but, like millions of Americans, I knew a term he is credited with first committing to print. ‘If You’re Woke, You Dig It’ read the headline of a 1962 Op-Ed that Kelley published in the New York Times, in which he pointed out that much of what passed for “beatnik” slang (“dig,” “chick,” “cool”) originated with African-Americans.” Are you familiar with William Kelley? Let Kathryn Schulz be your guide on this historical literary adventure as she discovers an immensely influential writer whom most of us have never heard mentioned.
Growing up, I was always taught that chickens lay eggs and people lie down. Since then, I’ve always been irritated by that verb’s misuse. But maybe it’s time to settle down and relax. Maybe, as Kathryn D. Blanchard argues, it’s time to stop “clinging to values that no longer serve their purposes.”