Barbara Mader's Reviews > An Open Book: Coming of Age in the Heartland

An Open Book by Michael Dirda
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Oct 16, 2009

it was ok
Read in October, 2009

I learned that Michael Dirda is still a very insecure and defensive guy--or else his sense of humor needs a fluff-up. I also learned how *not* to write a memoir and how I may come across to others. So I've learned plenty. But I didn't enjoy the book much at all, and I had thought I would.

The book reminded me of Tommy Smothers' remark about Jane Fonda. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was censored a great deal by CBS, and finally canceled even though it had been picked up for another season. The Smothers Brothers sued CBS and won their lawsuit. Tom Smothers was very sensitive about issues of censorship and became well-known for his stands against censorship and for freedom of speech. But one night he saw Jane Fonda on a talk show or some other tv program, and he saw how her focus on the causes she believed in had left her with no sense of humor on these or basically any other issues. And seeing her, he saw himself, and decided he had to loosen up a bit. Well, maybe in some of Michael Dirda's writing in this book I've seen myself too, and I'm not crazy about what I see. And I know that I would want to avoid the tone he has in this book in any writing of my own.

As an aside, there are some word choices that are supposed to be clever but just sound pretentious and clunky.

As another aside, I just end up feeling kind of sorry for the guy.
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