In his introduction to The Best of the Best American Poetry (Scribner, 1998), Harold Bloom laments that he is obsolete in the eyes of so many contemporary writers — “the Bloom Brontosaurus,” he calls himself. I don’t think it’s the best metaphor, because as John Cleese famously observed the brontosaurus is thin at the one end, thick in the middle, and thin at the other end. Bloom is thick from start to finish.
Eric McHenry is author, most recently, of “In Response to Harold Bloom’s Introduction to The Best of the Best American Poetry,” an essay in response to Harold Bloom’s introduction to The Best of the Best American Poetry (Scribner, 1998), but he’s come up with many other clever things. The other day he said of Wilt Chamberlain, “I’ve heard of booty call, but that man went above and beyond the call of booty.” When a friend told him she was double-majoring in psychology and computer science, quipping that her goal was to psychoanalyze computers, McHenry said “Tell me about your motherboard” in a Sigmund Freud accent. His apartment, he once declared, was one size too small to be called an “efficiency.” No, he said, his was “a d-ficiency.” That time Scotland almost went to war with Ireland and everyone at CNN was brainstorming for catchy names for the conflict, McHenry suggested “The Mc-Mac-Paddy-Whack.” Some of his gags are deliciously racy. When a friend spilled some Boulevard on her blouse at a party and campily announced that she was lactating beer, he exclaimed, “You’re my dream girl!” Actually, Steve DuBois said that, but here’s something genuinely attributable to McHenry: a friend was over watching cartoons one time when a vignette called “Daffy Duck Slept Here” came on. “Sounds like my weekend,” said his friend. Not to be outdone, McHenry replied, “Oh. Stuck you with the bill, did he?” And once, Steve DuBois said, “What was that word Steve Hough was always using?”, and either McHenry or Kyle Leiker said, simply, “the.” That was probably Kyle. He (McHenry) is frustrated that he wasn’t the first to think of calling Will Smith “The Artist Formerly Known as the Fresh Prince.” I mean Good Christ, it was staring him in the face for what, five years? McHenry received the National Book Award in 1995.