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New at IWP Books: Logan Pearsall Smith, All Trivia, 1933.

Arthur Krystal (A Word or Two Before I Go, 2023) on L.P.S.:

Shoulders and elbows were also necessary to secure my 1922 second edition of Trivia by Logan Pearsall Smith, published in 1917 by Doubleday, Page & Company, as well as my 1921 first edition of More Trivia, published by Harcourt, Brace, and Company. I hadn’t heard of Logan Pearsall Smith (the best name ever for an essayist, though he mainly composed vignettes in “moral prose,” some no more than half a page long) until Gore Vidal wrote a piece about him for the New York Review of Books in 1984. Smith may not be to everyone’s taste, but to me he was the adult in the room: sensible, sensitive, and looking in my mind like Leslie Howard. Well, he didn’t as it turns out (Google Images set me straight), but he looks every inch a man of letters, without my knowing, of course, what that looks like.

Paging through the essays today, I see that reading him at too young an age is an affectation, while reading him in old age calls into question the slightness of many of the pieces. There may be no happy medium. Here is the entire last entry of More Trivia; it’s called “The Argument”: “This long speculation of life, this thinking and syllogising that always goes on inside me, this running over and over of hypothesis and surmise and supposition – one day this Infinite Argument will have ended, the debate will forever be over, I shall have come to an indisputable conclusion, and my brain will be at rest.”