Politics & Policy

Back from Booking

Dear G-File Reader,

Well, it’s over. The book I’ve spent four years and change working on is finished. I just sent off the page proofs last week. When next I see it, she’ll be in galleys and it’ll be near impossible to make any changes beyond fixing the stray typo, correcting the hopefully rare egregious error of fact and extirpating any nudity which, in hindsight, no longer seems tasteful or integral to the plot.

When I started writing the book I tried to keep the “Goldberg File” going. For those of you who don’t know what the Goldberg File is, it was my original National Review Online column-cum-blog. Daily (even hourly) at first, then three times a week, then whenever the spirit moved, then it was spotted occasionally and then only hazily like Bigfoot, Osama bin Laden, or Carrot Top’s talent. Finally, it went missing and presumed dead like Jimmy Hoffa or George W. Bush’s approval ratings. The column you usually read on NRO is actually my syndicated column. It’s a subtle distinction to many — like the difference between The Amazing Spiderman and Peter Parker the Spectacular Spiderman. The syndicated column is fine, but it’s not the same thing as the G-File, because when you write a syndicated column it has to be much more disciplined. You can’t indulge your desire to go on long discursive tangents brimming with entirely irrelevant pop culture references and self-indulgent juvenile humor that don’t further your point at all.

By the way, I knew the G-File hadn’t been appearing much around here when relative newcomer Nathan Goulding — a.k.a. “Chaka” to “Corner” readers — once asked me: “What’s the G-File?” Oh, how poor Chaka was beaten that day. Though a secular Jew, I nonetheless visited the wrath of Israel upon him. I must have wailed on his head with his aluminum leg braces for hours. Even now, all you have to do is start a sentence with the “Jee” sound — as in “Gee, these pretzels are making me thirsty,” or “Gee, Lance sure drinks a lot of beer” — and a flinching Chaka pleads for mercy, in his panic knocking down his cubicle walls, as if he was Gollum seeing Sam Gamgee come through door, stinking drunk, ranting about how his wife left him for a particularly effeminate elf and he needs to take it out somebody. But we didn’t kill poor Chaka (When The Walls Fell) because we’ve gone through more webguys than Spinal Tap went through drummers.

Anyway, now that the book is done, I’m kind of eager to get back in the saddle. I don’t think I can promise anything like the old frequency. I’m obliged to post a lot in “The Corner” these days (if I go long without posting, Kathryn Lopez activates my pain collar). And blogging in “The Corner” tends to have the same effect on my creative juices that Communism had on General Jack D. Ripper’s precious bodily fluids: It drains the energy and enthusiasm that allowed me to crank out G-Files (so does my side gig as an interpretative dancer. You really should come to my next show. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen me perform my one-man Jazz-improvisational adaptation of Atlas Shrugged). Also, contrary to all evidence, I’ve grown up and, alas, out, a bit. Nonetheless, I thought I’d clear the cobwebs off the couch and give it whirl.

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Indeed, if I had my druthers — and enormous independent wealth — I’d probably spend the rest of my life just writing the G-File and little else. Professionally, some of the happiest days of my life were those early years of the G-File, winging it on matters trivial and weighty, and then waiting to hear back from readers.

In fact, I love NRO’s readers. Oh, surely not to all of you. We have our share of cranks, shmucks, Alec Baldwin doppelgangers, pedants-who-pee-in-the-sink and self-proclaimed Randolph Bournes amongst our readership. But, all in all, NRO readers have been the most intelligent, interesting, funny, and drop-dead sexy readers a writer could hope for (at least I imagined you were drop dead sexy when I was single. Now I like to think of you as incredibly wealthy hedge fund managers eager to give me the keys to one of your Aegean villas if you hear just one more French joke). One of the longest acknowledgements in my book is to you guys and it’s entirely sincere.

But, alas, man cannot live by bread alone, and I cannot live by G-Filing alone. This raises the age-old question first anticipated in the writings of Ammonius Hermiae: Can Goldberg still hold 32 Cheetos in his mouth at one time? Well, that’s a question that simply cannot be answered right now. I don’t have any Cheetos in the house (“Liar!” — The Couch).

Another question you might have in mind is, Why am I reading this? (“Indeed!” — The Couch). And again, we have a question that can’t be answered. I have no idea why so many of you stuck around as long as you have, never mind why so many want this strange little institution to return. All I can say is I’m grateful, I missed you guys, and — if you’ll have me — I’d like to come back.

So, looking forward, expect more G-Files. I think between now and the fall, I’ll be doing some more diary-type stuff, saving most of the punditry for the syndicated column and “The Corner.” Indeed, I leave this Saturday for our annual Goldberg Family peregrination West. I don’t know if I’ll manage to live up (or down) to the travelogues of yore (The trip to my wedding: see here and here and here; or in 2002 with married Goldberg on the road: see here). But, as always, the G-File is really only for friends who want to hang out. So, please stay tuned.

Sincerely,

Jonah

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