Sunday, August 4, 2013

Library of America Story of the Week Read-Along 103: Waverly Root, The Flying Fool (#34)

Waverly Root, "The Flying Fool" (1987) from Americans in Paris: A Literary Anthology:

This piece appeared after Root's death, if I'm reading the dates right; which has no bearing on my topic other than to note that it appeared long after Lindbergh's solo flight from New York to Paris. So Root gets to give us the long view, both about what Lindbergh's flight meant and what people thought at the time. And most importantly, how big a gap there was.

That's kind of the major motif of this gently funny piece: everyone was caught by surprise by Lindbergh's flight. The newspaper editors didn't think he would make it; the politicians were caught by surprise; the police under-reacted by sending hardly any cops to deal with the crowd of well-wishers; etc.

In fact, it's about eight pages of gently poking fun at all the people who either misunderstood Lindbergh or tried to turn his triumph to their own ends; and then we get two pages of how Lindbergh totally knew what he was doing. Lindbergh didn't take a radio or a co-pilot because he totally knew he could do it. If you wrote that section today, you'd say, "we can't call him 'Lucky Lindy' because he's just that hardcore."

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