Uncivil Liberties

By Trillin, Calvin | The Nation, September 6, 1986 | Go to article overview

Uncivil Liberties


Trillin, Calvin, The Nation


UNCIVIL LIBERTIES. My friend Howard Corkum took David Stockman's book to the cottage the Corkums have at the beach, and immediately started talking about how guilty he felt about not reading it.

"I feel terrible about this," Howard said, when I went out to visit them a few days after they opened up the cottage for the summer. "Here I've spent $22.95 for a book I haven't even opened. I can't imagine why I bought it in the first place. I mean, it's not as if I've been a big fan of David Stockman. He looks like he was George Will's roommate in college and they had the only absolutely tidy room in the dormitory."

"Take it easy, Howard," I said. "You just got here. How do you know you won't read it before the end of the summer?"

"That's how I know," Howard said, pointing to a small mountain of thick volumes on the other side of the parlor. I couldn't see all the titles from where I was sitting, but I did make out Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President, by Jimmy Carter, and The White House Years, by Henry Kissinger. "I haven't opened any of them," Howard said. "I feel just awful about this whole thing."

None of this surprised me. Every winter, Howard, feverish with good intentions, buys some pound-and-a-half political memoir that he describes as "important," and puts it aside to read when he gets to the beach cottage in the summer. He never seems to remember that what he actually does at the beach all summer is putter around in an old shed turning found objects like driftwood and lobster buoys into small pieces of furniture that, in the words of the mutual friend we call Marty Mean Tongue, "make you understand that certain found objects were meant to remain lost."

Sitting there in the Corkums' parlor, wobbling slightly on a chair Howard has fashioned from railroad ties, I regretted not having thought to phone Howard's wife, Edna, last winter and suggest that she clip any mention of the Stockman book from Howard's newspaper, the way that a criminal court bailiff might clip references to a notorious murder case before allowing the afternoon paper into the jury room.

Once he's bought a book, it's too late. "But do you actually think you're going to read A Time to Heal, by Gerald Ford?" I asked one spring, in the slim hope that I could persuade him to include it in a couple of boxes of books I was about to take down to the local Veterans Administration Hospital.

"Not now, of course," he said. "It's the sort of book you save for the summer."

I've never known what else to do except to encourage him in his carpentry, if that's what it is, on the theory that if he believes it's a worthwhile activity he might feel less guilty about not completing what he seems to treat as the homework the publishing industry has assigned all citizens. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Uncivil Liberties
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.