This Month's Best Lead
'In one of the essays in "Regards," John Gregory Dunne recalls attending a screenwriter's funeral in Beverly Hills, Calif. During the service, his friend Gore Vidal leaned over and asked, "are you working?" No, Mr. Dunne thinks, he "had no intention of using the scene in a book," but "yes, it was always there waiting to be retrieved." So, he concludes, "the answer to Gore Vidal's question should have been, 'Always.'"
--from a Michiko Kakutani review of John Gregory Dunne's essay collection in last week's New York Times.
Meanwhile, we don't want to discriminate against great paragraphs, simply because they happened not to appear at the beginning of an article. Here's a wonderful riff from an article in the current Economist ("Ready, Fire, Aim") on Dick Cheney's hunting accident:
'Mr. Cheney's own expedition was a lot closer to "Gosford Park" than the "Deer Hunter"--a group of fat old toffs waiting for wildlife to be flushed towards them at huge expense. There has also been a huge increase in so-called "exotic hunting"--where guests not only go after indiginous species such as wolves and bears, but also blast away at imported zebras and giraffes. Convenience is essential for the hedge fund crowd. Most exotic hunts take place in ranches from which the animals can't escape (Texas has 600). Exotic hunters can shoot elephants from cars or from the backs of other elephants, sometimes the orphaned calves of the victims of previous hunts. For the truly lazy, there is "just-in-time shooting," where animals are trained to turn up at certain times, and "Internet shooting," where you can guide the gun from your desk. All this removes much of the inconvenience from hunting. It also removes its main justification, that it is the most natural way of culling local wildlife.'