Bernard Henri-Levy, He's Alright

Jonah Goldberg literally cannot stop laughing at this Bernard Henri-Levy diary in the Times (UK).

I’ll let you into a secret: I never, never eat at home. I know it’s odd, but I find the idea of eating at home repugnant.

I don’t cook, and my wife doesn’t cook either. The only time I would serve food at home would be if I had to meet someone as discreetly as possible. That happens once a year at most, and even then I don’t eat.

In Paris I’ll have lunch at the Café de Flore, near my home. I always have a salad and scrambled eggs with cheese. No wine. Even if I see people I know, I prefer to sit on my own. Sounds a bit austere, doesn’t it? But the life of a writer is a solitary one, and when I’m writing I don’t want to unplug. Writing is electricity; you have to avoid a short circuit. I spend the afternoon writing too. The only break is for swimming. In the south of France it’s either at Cap d’Antibes or in the Colombe d’Or pool.

And so on. Goldberg says "if you take any joy in reading people who take themselves too seriously, this is downright rapturous." But it's not like the Times decided to open its pages to Henri-Levy because his breakfast habits are so much more interesting than anyone else's breakfast habits. This is "A Life in the Day," a feature they've been doing for at least eight years, where a reporter (in this case John Follain) interviews a celebrity or interesting person about the trivia of his day then types it up as a journal.

They do this with all manner of people - here's one with Dr. Who actor Tom Baker. (The one who looked like a limey Howard Stern.) While most celebrity journalism is useless, and the result of a reporter being allowed a precious 60 or 90 minutes between someone's press conferences or photo shoots, these interviews are actually remarkably revealing for the space they use. If you thought BHL was a pretentious clown based on some stuff he's written, you now have more evidence for that theory than ever you had before. It's a great feature and I'm proud to have ripped it off for my college paper. (Unfortunately, I did this before people I know took on the genuinely interesting professions of indie rock star and comic book writer).

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  • alkali||

    In Paris I'll have lunch at the Café de Flore, near my home. I always have a salad and scrambled eggs with cheese. No wine. Even if I see people I know, I prefer to sit on my own.

    I agree BHL is a bit overstuffed but I have to say that this sounds pretty nice.

  • ||

    Dr. Who actor Tom Baker. (The one who looked like a limey Howard Stern.)

    I am not worthy!

  • ||

    The NY Times fashion and lifestyles sections have always annoyed me, as they never talk about the lifestyle of my family--the NYC middle-to-lower-middle class. It's always about the excessively wealthy. Like the WSJ's opinions page is farther right than its news coverage, the NYT's fluff sections are far more elitist than even its opinion sections are left.

    That said, this is an interesting feature--I just wish the NYT was laughing at him too.

  • ||

    jb,

    This is from the London Times.

  • Sandy||

    That Tom Baker bit is fabulous. Though it does scare me to think he's 72.

  • ||

    Tom Baker is, was, and will always be Dr Who. On that there will be no compromise.

  • ||

    " I wrote it because I thought that for a European intellectual there was nothing more important than to understand what was happening in America, to go and tell the Americans what was wrong with their society.

    I'm not anti-American - I can't stand the French prejudice against America."

    Bwahahaha

  • Russell||

    It must be the cheeseeating that's got Jonah Goldberg riled.

    Last year, when BHL regaled the WSJ Op-editor over clams at the Cafe Carlyle ,nobody gave a hoot.

  • Rhywun||

    Tom Baker is, was, and will always be Dr Who. On that there will be no compromise.

    I was watching an episode the other day in which a one-off character in 1920's or so is staring at a piece a complicated machinery that the Doctor's just fiddled with and says: "I think I understand." and Tom Baker replies: "I'm sure you don't. But thanks for trying!"

  • ||

    +1

    baker = best dr. ever.

  • ||

    "Goldberg says 'if you take any joy in reading people who take themselves too seriously, this is downright rapturous.'"

    Ahh, Goldberg and his disgust with anybody trying to do something correctly, like those damn elites. I mean, jeez, Bernard Henri-Levy is all serious and shit. Let's all laugh at the serious, elite guy. What's he wanna write a book for anyway?

  • Warren||

    Ditto all Baker comments. Pure gold.

    As for Goldberg, isn't he due for a some sort of addiction or breakdown or something?

  • Joshua S. Rubenstein||

    Don't all Frenchmen wear their shirts unbuttoned to the navel?

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