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Witness Protection Program

From the Scrapbook

Feb 22, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 22
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An added treat to a Labash book release is that he emerges from behind the vaguely desk-shaped pile of old newspapers, magazines, and scrap printer paper in his office to do press interviews. Here’s Labash’s summary of the book’s contents from a Q&A with Esquire:


My favorite story in Fly Fishing with Darth Vader, you ask? Why not just ask me to pick a favorite child? I can’t really do that. Each of them means something different, each experience left me with indelible memories. The stories in this collection saw me beaning elementary schoolgirls in the face with a dodgeball, plotting dirty tricks with Roger Stone, slogging through forced funtivities in corporate America, and trying to bribe my way into Iraq with Christopher Hitchens. Marion Barry showed me his nipples. Jim Traficant gave me a goombah smack in the face, while explaining that Janet Reno is a lesbian mob puppet. The hillbilly Democratic bubba-hunter, Mudcat Saunders, nearly killed me on an outlaw racetrack and tried to feed me a handful of deer turds. The crooked former governor of Louisiana, Edwin Edwards, drove me around Baton Rouge against a judge’s order, risking imprisonment, where he was headed anyway. And that’s just for starters. Even the subjects I had a more tempestuous relationship with, I ended up liking. Donald Trump comes to mind. When he was considering a Reform party presidential run, I shadowed him all over California, ate pizza with Trump and Melania in his private jet, and watched him tell a rabbi at the Holocaust Museum that he had a “nice property,” which I thought was pure class.

The early reviews are enthusiastic. Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic called Labash’s collection of journalistic hijinks the “funniest book of the year” (while taking pains to note he doesn’t know Labash, personally).

And Mark Lasswell of the Wall Street Journal says, “Mr. Labash inhabits a story so thoroughly that readers feel as if they’re at his side, seeing events with his sharp eye, privy to his wisecracks, savoring moments when he reels in what feels like the truth. Sure, executing long-form journalism at this high level has about it a whiff of the Civil War reenactment—an almost perfect evocation of a bygone era!—but there is also a certain thrilling defiance displayed by .  .  . the writer [as he] plows ahead, page after page.”

None of this will come as news, of course, to longtime readers of these pages. So feed your Labash habit; go buy Fly Fishing with Darth Vader.


Sentences We
Didn’t Finish

"From time to time I come across Silda and Eliot Spitzer. He is the .  .  . ” (Richard Cohen, Washington Post, February 9).

Hour GlassHour Glass


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