Conversation provided at Fran Lebowitz’s skill level would have been celebrated in another era, just look at vintage video clips that show figures like James Baldwin, Gore Vidal, and William F. Buckley on talk shows from the 1960s. Lebowitz has said how she was thrilled and inspired as a young person by one of Baldwin’s appearances on the David Susskind Show. Today’s talk shows are no comparison, with guests that are pre-interviewed and come out to plug their product for five minutes. But, when Lobowitz appears on a talk show, there is actual conversation.
Lebowitz is famously paralyzed with what she calls ”writer’s blockade” but she has few peers as a public pontificator. Her particular gift for gab has made it possible for her to afford to continue to live in NYC and to hang out with her famous friends.
Cranky, sardonic, witty and dry; her essays make me think and they make me laugh. She was named one of the most stylish women in Vanity Fair’s International Best-Dressed List, and she is known for wearing bespoke suits from Savile Row’s Anderson And Sheppard.
Leibowitz disapproves of pretty much everything except sleep, cigarettes, and fine furniture. Her essays about the difficulty of finding an acceptable apartment or the art of freeloading are classics of social observation. I still re-read her first books Social Studies and Metropolitan Life, both published more than 35 years ago.
“Polite conversation is rarely either.”