Not That You Asked . . .

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The format of this anthology is similar to Rooney’s previous books of the type: There are ten to a dozen headings such as “Changes,” in which changing attitudes and trends in American society are addressed, and “Nuisances,” featuring complaints of the type usually selected for the “60 Minutes” segment known as “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney.” Sections such as “Problems,” “Truths,” and “People” are more serious in tone than the one called “Dilemmas,” for example, in which Rooney confesses his inability to draw maps, make a bed, open a carton of milk properly, or read for more than an hour.

This book is perfect for such a reader; the essays are conversational, brief, and to the point. They are contemporary without being dated. Some are even beautiful, such as the eulogistic piece on Richard Feynman (“People”). A discussion of the uses of television compares the broadcasts of a prizefight with a concert by Vladimir Horowitz, shown within twenty-four hours of each other.

Rooney is both entertaining and thought-provoking. The writer has reached his stated goal of expressing “in so many words, some of the ideas that lurk, wordlessly, in the minds of a great many people.” That he can do this with originality is his unique skill.