Saturday, January 05, 2008

First Things blogger whiffs a hanging fastball

Sally Thomas, whose previous output I'm not familiar with, post this rather pointless piece about a crude juvenile book.

I am the last person in America to have heard of Walter the Farting Dog. [...] While neither of us is exactly a lace-encrusted Victorian holdover, we shared a grandmother who could not bring herself to mention the name of any bodily function whatsoever and therefore spent our childhoods being ordered to wash our hands before long car journeys and church. Our more up-market great-aunt used routinely to inquire of us as seven-year-olds whether our noses needed powdering. None of this particularly mystified us; it was how people talked in the South. We assumed it was how all people talked, everywhere.[...] Here is a plot summary:
1. Some kids bring home a dog from the pound.
2. You know the title, so already you know what’s wrong with the dog.
3. Dad wants to get rid of the dog.
4. The very night before the dog goes back to the pound, some burglars break into the house.
5. The dog overpowers them, to put it with nose-powdering delicacy.
6. Hooray, we love Walter, Walter can stay, the end.

Ms. Thomas records her ambivalent reaction, or lack of:

So it was not that I was shocked, exactly, to learn of the existence of a children’s book about a farting dog—merely interested, you understand.

I've nothing against rather pointless blog posts--obviously, if you've been reading for awhile--but I saw the perfect kicker to this one. G. K. Chesterton had the number of shock artists way back when. Dig:

Do not be proud of the fact that your grandmother was shocked at something which you are accustomed to seeing or hearing without being shocked. It may be that your grandmother was an extremely lively and vital animal, and that you are a paralytic.

What a great aphorist he was...

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