Age and Guile
Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut
The political humorist shares his transformation from dirty hippie to conservative middle-aged grouch: “An incorrigible comic gift” (The New York Times Book Review).
The #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Give War a Chance was at one time a raving pinko, with scars on his formerly bleeding heart to prove it. In Age and Guile: Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut, P. J. O’Rourke chronicles the remarkable trajectory that took him from the lighthearted fun of the revolutionary barricades to the serious business of the nineteenth hole.
How did the O’Rourke of 1970, who summarized the world of “grown-ups” as “materialism, sexual hang-ups, the Republican party, uncomfortable clothes, engagement rings, car accidents, Pat Boone, competition, patriotism, cheating, lying, ranch houses, and TV” come to be in favor of all of those things? What caused his metamorphosis from a beatnik-hippie type comfortable sleeping on dirty mattresses in pot-addled communes during his days as a writer for assorted “underground” papers? Here, O’Rourke shows how his socialist idealism and avant-garde aesthetic tendencies were cured, and how he acquired a healthy and commendable interest in national defense, balanced budgets, Porsches, and Cohiba cigars.
From a former editor-in-chief of National Lampoon and frequent NPR guest, this hilarious essay collection shows that there’s hope for all those suffering from acute bohemianism.
Since most of O'Rourke's (All the Trouble in the World) books are collections, this retrospective is not so much a greatest-hits album as a variably entertaining grab bag of B-sides and other miscellany. There is giddy juvenilia he wrote for the 1970s underground press, including a hilarious hoax piece about Richard Nixon's trip to China. There are several arch tales about the 1960s that O'Rourke published in the National Lampoon, including an amusing attack on communism. His bumptiously ignorant persona serves him well as he explores high-end automobiles and such sports as fishing and golf for specialized magazines. O'Rourke's brief section on ``Current and Recurrent Events'' reminds us of his best political work; an even briefer selection of miscellany has some funnier stuff, including his uproarious dissection of a book tour. 150,000 first printing; author tour.