Nathan Burke once said, “Get out of the freight car or I’ll kick your bitchy little ass, Mr. Siegel,” and for Adam Bellow whiny little essays like this one were considered “the spoils of nepotism.” Kafka once asked Max Brod to burn his writing, fearing that a shrimpy little weasel named Lee Siegel would quote him in a century. (What a mess that would make.) We know now thanks to Lee Siegel that you can turn in the world’s most incomprehensibly idiotic essay and still collect a paycheck from the New York Times Book Review. A modest question arises, however: If Lee Siegel is such a legend in his own mind, why is it that his ego continues to be fed by the Gray Lady? When Lee Siegel bangs like an autistic monkey on his keyboard, you’re in big trouble. I mean, big trouble.
Let’s start with a couple of harmless tests. If you’ve read Siegel’s essay and didn’t want to stab yourself after the first paragraph, did you want to stab yourself after the second? First, try to wonder why Siegel feels the need to name-drop six literary names in the first paragraph. Don’t worry, I couldn’t tell you either. Could it be that Siegel has nothing interesting to say about anything? Once you recover this primal state of being after getting past the second paragraph, Siegel tells us, you will then take off your brassiere or your boxers for Mr. Siegel. You will hand him your credit card and he will spend the entire day maxing it out, ruining your hard-earned credit with a spate of 1-900 calls. Volunteers?
Now, I never swallowed when Siegel asked. Nor did I suck him off at any point. Lee Siegel’s downfall was his Dubya-like insistence that he was right, that he was funny, and that he had some scintilla of talent. His undoing arrived — well, how many undoings were there really? The cowardly sock puppet at the New Republic? The tendency to hold any panel or discussion hostage? The inability to act or think like a grown-up?
Well, enough of Lee Siegel. And enough with this parody. My girlfriend pointed me to the article, knowing damn well that I would want to kick this sad sack of a man when he’s down. So let us conclude this entry by pointing out the obvious fact: if Bruno Kirby were still alive, he’d play the role of Lee Siegel in the inevitable movie.
© 2008, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.