Acknowledgments
Some people write good acknowledgments; others write good books.
That's what an old editor of mine once let fall: wisdom acquired over
the course of a long career, nothing personal. When you come to
think of it, though, it takes a bigger soul to do an acknowledgments
and make you believe it than to write a book and get good reviews. In
order to sound sincere in acknowledgments you have to be truly gen-
erous (it can't be faked); you can get good reviews without having any
heart at all. I for one have never gotten good reviews. That says it all.
But it is a bad idea to get so relaxed in writing your acknowl-
edgments that you doze into irony, making fun of friends, kidding
around, as we all do with those we love best and feel no aggression
toward at all, no. I have made that mistake. At one point, I made
some jokes about friends who truly had helped me a great deal, sort
of, in an atmospheric way. I pretended they had helped me not at
all-had, I said (all ludically) gone out of their way to offend me,
mislead me, retard my labors,
and salt my ground. Just joking. I re-
member saying that about Gerhard Joseph, N. John 'jack" Hall (who
once ran for sheriff), Juliet McMaster, Rob Polhemus, W
J.
T.
(don't
call me ''Tom'') Mitchell, Regina Schwartz, self-seeking old Joe Witt-
reich, Garrett Stewart, Gina Barreca (who really will turn on you if you
cross her), Julian Markels, Uli Knoepflmacher, Hilary Schor, Phyllis
Franklin, Jeffrey Robinson, that thing Joel Conarroe, and many more
I now can't remember ever meeting.
To my amazement, dozens of scholars, almost all of greater stat-
ure and experience in the world than those I had so affectionately
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