Take My Advice: Letter to the Next Generation from...

Editor's Choice

March 31, 2002|By Michael Pakenham

Take My Advice: Letter to the Next Generation from People Who Know a Thing or Two, edited by James L. Harmon (Simon & Schuster, 254 pages, $18).

Over some 10 years, Harmon, an Oregon writer, bedeviled strangers with well-known names for advice. He kept the responses, wrapped them together and produced this book. Most notable for the outrageous presumptuousness of the project, it is the sort of volume that is best read in snippets in the smallest room of the house. The bits of advice run from a few words to several pages -- from acidly sardonic to posturingly pompous. But in between there are some gems, or at least nuggets: Camille Paglia seems to have emptied her commonplace book -- lots of fine quotes. Mary McCarthy is crisp: "Be truthful, within the limits of possibility, and pay attention. I would also recommend the avoidance of credit cards." There are 39 advisers in all, half of whose names you will recognize straight off. An entertaining exercise.

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