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Who said it? [A Challenge]

Ava 1Remember when the Sunday Times Book Review, frankly middlebrow and proud of it, used to run author's queries ("for a biography of Maxwell Anderson I would be grateful . . .") and legitimate questions from college grads who wanted to track down a favorite quotation (was it Scott Fitzgerald who said "live fast, die young, and have a handsome corpse?") In that spirit I offer you this cocktail party line that would have beguiled Flo Bear.

"If the Kennedy White House was decadent; the Clinton White House was sordid." Who said it? I have asked a lot of smart people, to no avail, and would be grateful for any leads. Meanwhile, my friend Burt Hooton proposes this multiple choice list of possible candidates:

1) Jane Fonda
2) Arthur Schlesinger
3) Diana Trilling
4) Senator Susan Collins
5) Jacques Barzun
6) Lawrence P. Berra

I'm not convinced by any of Burt's suggestions, though the terms of the distinction do sound as though they could have come from #3 or #5, and I appreciate the convention observed in #6.

You get extra points if you can say what Ava Gardner is doing in this post or if you can make a convincing case in favor of Oliver Stone's theory of JFK's assassination. -- DL

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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