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I’d Been Wondering About That Myself



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Posted on the website of Brother Hugh:

On my radio show moments ago I asked Mark Steyn about the current issue of The Atlantic which does not have one of Steyn’s wonderful obituaries.  (A collection of these magnificent send-offs, Passing Parade, is here.)  Mark revealed that he and The Atlantic have parted ways after a disagreement.

What a pity.  Mark had raised the obit to a high art form, exceeding even the fine examples in the Daily Telegraph, for comprehensiveness, wit, and a certain generous sense of the oddity of every human existence.  My favorite?  The obit of John Profumo, who in 1963 lied to the House of Commons about his dalliance with a call girl (said call girl had also been dallying with the Soviet naval attache), found himself forced to resign–and helped to cause the fall of the entire Tory government.  Look at the way Mark opens the obit–I mean, just look:

It began like a movie: July 8, 1961. An unusually warm evening at a grand country estate. A girl in the swimming pool. She pulls herself up out of the water. She’s beautiful, and naked. A larky lad has tossed her bathing costume into the bushes. Among the blasé weekend guests dressed for dinner and taking a stroll on the terrace, one man reacts with more than amused sophistication as the girl hastily wraps a towel around herself. She leaves with someone else the next day, but not before the man on the terrace has inquired after her name.

After his fall, Mark noted, Profumo lived the rest of his life out of the eyes of the press, shunning publicity while devoting himself to good works–in particular an East End charity.  And when he died last March–here the Steyn eye for the telling, elegaic fact–the world lost the last member of the House who had voted no confidence in Neville Chamberlain.

There.  A little obit for Mark’s obits.



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