Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obituary: Critic John Leonard

If there is any career in media I've envied, it's that of the critic John Leonard. He wrote television reviews for New York Magazine, occasional book reviews for the New York Review of Books, and a monthly book review column for Harper's. He has written for the New York Times and for The Nation. Leonard was 69.

Bill Moyers has called him "our most prolific and eclectic cultural critic." Meghan O’Rourke described him in a profile in the Columbia Journalism Review last year:
"Unlike James Wood, the chief literary critic of The New Republic, he doesn’t have a grand theory of fiction; unlike Michael Dirda, a senior editor at The Washington Post Book World, he is not a man of belles lettres; unlike the novelist and essayist Dale Peck, he is not a pugilist. He is neither a Freudian, nor a Marxist, nor a proponent of one aesthetic camp or another. Rather, his is the role of the discerning enthusiast, the Saturday reviewer who has read far more than most people and who writes about his discoveries with greater attention, insight, and felicity of self-expression than most of us can muster on any day of the week."

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