Fifty years ago, Norman Podhoretz wrote his memoir Making It. It begins with a famous opening line: “The journey from Brooklyn to Manhattan is one of the longest journeys in the world.” At the time, it was true (as Podhoretz explains in a new Q&A with me).
My Q&A with NPod begins with Making It, then branches off in other, if related, directions. We talk about the writing life. And Podhoretz’s old friend Shakespeare. (He likes to read him rather than watch him onstage.) And his old friend Yeats. (The greatest poet of the 20th century, says Podhoretz, at least in English. And English is tops, he says.)
Now and then, Podhoretz will read a new novel, but he’d rather re-read old ones — such as Anna Karenina, which he read again recently. The greatest novel ever, he says. (Middlemarch may be No. 2, he adds.) With his old teacher Leavis, he has a disagreement over Trollope: The student is very much pro-, and the teacher was very much anti-.
We get into music and ballet. And math and science, even. And politics, of course: including Trump. And the fate of Europe. And the fate of Israel.
Have you ever had a conversation with Norman Podhoretz? Treat yourself. (Again, that Q&A is here.) There’s not much like it.