Marjorie Williams died in 2005. She was the exceptionally gifted wife of Slate Senior Writer Timothy Noah, and the mother of their two school-age children. Her acclaimed best-seller THE WOMAN AT THE WASHINGTON ZOO,* edited by Tim, is beautifully writen and is from Public Affairs. Her Art of the Fake Apology is deliciously masterful. Consider "The Useful Apology, " which ''is some revelation of personal weakness that is carefully calibrated to address a political vulnerability without making any concession that could attract further harm. It must be phrased in such a way that it can be justified or nullified or hurled at one's opponent in the very next sentence." Imagine what Williams would have done to the Clintons' responses to Hillary's claim of literally dodging bullets and you see why this book is still a must-read. "The Halloween of My Dreams,'' about costuming her daughter for the last time, is a heartbreaking gift to a very special girl.
My favorite lines in the volume were written about three years into what she called ''bonus time," after being diagnosed with liver cancer. "Whether the bad time I just had lasted five days or five weeks, some inner voice eventually said--and still says--Never mind. Today is a ravishing day, and I will put on a short skirt and high heels and see how much of the future I can inhale.''
Tim has edited a collection of her profiles, which Public Affairs will release in November.
*Title is from a poem by Randall Jarrell.
Causes Barbara Berman Supports
Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, St. Anthony Foundation, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, The National Book Critics Circle,...