An Amazing Fluency

by Jay Nordlinger

This week, on the homepage, we’re running a multipart interview with Mark Steyn. Oh, what a talker! As good a talker as he is a writer. In fact, it’s impossible for me to imagine him sweating over a keyboard, as the rest of us do. I would think he could speak his column and books into a tape recorder, then go out and play golf or have a nap, while someone else transcribes the tape.

I was thinking of the best talkers I have known. Here is an abridged list: Paul Johnson, Bill Buckley, David Pryce-Jones, Anthony Daniels, Bernard Lewis, Norman Podhoretz, John O’Sullivan . . . What do they have in common? Well, lots of Englishmen in there. WFB had some schooling in England; N. Pod. spent some time in Cambridge. Anyway, there’s definitely something in the British agua.

And Mark Steyn? I think of him as Anglospheric: a little Canadian, a little English, a little Irish, a little American (a lot, actually), a little Australian, somehow — Anglospheric. If he did a one-man show on Broadway, it would run for as long as he wanted it to, I bet.

By the way, looking back up at my list, I see that I’ve included DP-J, and then spoken of Englishmen. As his last name tells you, he is of Welsh extraction. But he has spent his life in England. And let’s not be too picky, eh? (As they don’t say in Wales, I believe.)

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