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).