I really want to read the new Walter Kirn book, "Mission to America". How badly you ask? Way bad. Lee.
This week in Slate, Kirn and Stephen Metcalf are discussing the book. Though Metcalf is doing little more than sending butterfly kisses Kirn's way, Kirn's responses are fantastic. The guy is, in the parlance of our day, "Bananas".
For all of you doubters, here is a snippet from the end of Kirn's last email to Metcalf.
There's one more aspect of the book I'd like to touch on before I go. America is in spiritual crisis now, I sincerely believe it, and novelists just aren't addressing this dire fact. As never before, we're running around the world correcting other people on their politics, their economic systems, and everything else, but here at home life feels hollow and overextended. We can't clean up the damage from our own storms. We can't stop burning fuels we can't replace. We can't lose the weight. We can't pay off the credit cards. We're off on a thousand noble expeditions but back at base camp conditions are deteriorating. My novel allegorizes this situation and was written, now that we're speaking candidly, out of a sense that the grand utopian energies that created the country in the first place are rapidly and disastrously dwindling. It's high time, I think, for a mission to America, carried out from within, from the depths of our own history. My book takes a humorous, fanciful stab at imagining such an exercise (in miniature) and estimating its chances of success. I'm glad you liked it. I'm glad you're recommending it. I wrote this peculiar novel from the heart, not satirically but prayerfully.
Walter Kirn and I would be good friends, I imagine, if I were older, more intelligent, and lived in Montana. Even then, I'd probably be pushing it.
A rare picture of the male species of the elusive "Walter Kirn", native to Montana.