Or is that up? I’m not sure.
In today’s New York Times Book Review, David Kamp writes about Norah Vincent’s “Self-Made Man,” in which the author spends a year disguised as a guy and chronicles the experience. The book itself sounds pretty interesting. Vincent is a lesbian, so there are layers upon layers here, especially given that — in her male disguise — she goes on several dates with women.
This morning, though, I come not to praise Vincent but to bury Kamp. Here is what he says about Vincent’s experience in a men’s bowling league:
The resultant chapter is as tender and unpatronizing a portrait of America’s “white trash” underclass as I’ve ever read. “They took people at face value,” writes Vincent of Ned’s teammates, a plumber, an appliance repairman and a construction worker. “If you did your job or held up your end, and treated them with the passing respect they accorded you, you were all right.” Neither dumb lugs nor proletarian saints, Ned’s bowling buddies are wont to make homophobic cracks and pay an occasional visit to a strip club, but they surprise Vincent with their lack of rage and racism, their unflagging efforts to improve Ned’s atrocious bowling technique and “the absolute reverence with which they spoke about their wives,” one of whom is wasting away from cancer.
I quote this at some length to show that Vincent apparently gets it, even though Kamp doesn’t. In Kamp’s mind, a plumber, a repairman and a construction worker — all of them employed in what has traditionally been well-paid blue-collar work — constitute “America’s ‘white trash’ underclass.” What world is Kamp living in? Media Nation does not generally engage in reverse snobbery, but I can’t let this go.
Plumbers, especially, need to be highly educated in their trade, and are — along with folks such as electricians and carpenters — members of a rather select group of skilled craftsmen who can and do charge a lot of money for their services. Or hasn’t Kamp called a plumber lately? Kamp’s casual dismissal of working people as “trash” says a lot about what’s wrong with a certain type of Manhattan-centered elitism.
The tagline reads, “David Kamp, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, is at work on a book about the American food world, to be published later this year.”
Keep him away from diners.