Friday, May 6, 2011

John J. Miller

John J. Miller writes for National Review, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He is the author of several books, including The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football and The First Assassin, a historical thriller set during the Civil War. The Chronicle of Higher Education has called him “one of the best literary journalists in the country.”

Recently I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Next fall, I’m teaching a college course on the history of journalism, so I’m reading and re-reading a lot of material that will appear on the syllabus--including Innocents Abroad, the book that made Mark Twain famous and helped invent the genre of travel journalism. “I am not here to write Patent-Office reports,” promises Twain during an early stop on his European tour. Instead, he delivers scathing observations about everything: “The community is eminently Portuguese--that is to say, it is slow, poor, shiftless, sleepy, and lazy.” Ouch! Almost nobody escapes Twain’s mockery. When our correspondent arrives in Milan and sets his eyes on The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci, he comments that the students who are copying it are producing versions superior to the original. Twain himself, of course, is hard to reproduce.

In the category of reading for pure pleasure, I’m presently enjoying The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton. I’m loyal to Hamilton because his Alex McKnight mystery series, set in my home state of Michigan, is so good. The Lock Artist features a different protagonist (a young safecracker who is also mute) and mostly non-Michigan settings. The plot works well but ultimately the book is driven by its leading character and his strange condition. Also, I met Hamilton last summer at a bookstore in Traverse City and had him sign my copy. I want to finish it before his next McKnight novel, Misery Bay, comes out in June.
Visit John J. Miller's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Big Scrum.

--Marshal Zeringue