Monday, February 14, 2005

A Lesson in Timing, by Paul Theroux

In this past Sunday's Washington Post Book World, published three days after playwright Arthur Miller's death but apparently printed before it, novelist Paul Theroux says this in a special spread on writers' favorite books about love (a Valentine's Day billet doux, of sorts):

When I read recently that Arthur Miller, nearly 90, was engaged in a dalliance with an artistic woman in her mid-thirties ("I had thought he was dead!" she confided to an interviewer), my mind raced back with pleasure to one of the last short stories V.S. Pritchett ever wrote, "On the Edge of a Cliff."

If Miller's young paramour "thought he was dead", what must have been the reaction of most Americans to Friday's news? "Wasn't he the guy who married Joe DiMaggio's ex-wife?"

At least Theroux's minor faux pas can be attributed to printing schedules. It's not like the CNN reporter who contacted a publicist to request (the late) Rodney Dangerfield's reaction to Johnny Carson's passing last month. That's just bumbling journalism.

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