Academic journal article et Cetera

Books -- Just Curious by Cullen Murphy

Academic journal article et Cetera

Books -- Just Curious by Cullen Murphy

Article excerpt

Cullen Murphy. Just Curious. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995.

The essayists and critics Bernard DeVoto and Dwight Macdonald endeared themselves to the literati/intelligencia folks (especially the East Coast variety) during the middle years of this century. Through their usually, but not excessively, well-tempered, clever, polished...in a word, educated use of the English language, these gentlemen (both now dead) pleased us and informed us. Some have wondered when, or indeed whether, we would see their like again.

Rest easy. In case you have not read his brief essays in the "Notes and Comments" sections of The Atlantic Monthly recently, Cullen Murphy bids fair to fill this painful gap.

On a personal level, Cullen Murphy has attained the position of Managing Editor of that prestigious magazine, while also writing the story line for the comic strip "Prince Valiant." His father, incidentally, has done the art work on that strip for many years. Murphy's writing efforts also have included a collaboration with William Rathje on an unusual book: Rubbish! An Archaeology of Garbage. Ecology buffs would do well to study that book carefully, for the empirical studies discussed by Rathje and Murphy require the revision of much received "wisdom."*

The 37 essays brought together in Just Curious range widely, including witty discussions of the shifting cat/dog balance in this country, ventriloquism, Stonehenge, the changing procedures in written salutations, and his mother's clever technique for evading daily sandwich-making for five children. …

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