"Horsepresence took another hit last month, when the ancient Claremont Riding Academy, on West Eighty-ninth Street, closed its doors, reducing our equines to that redolent line of tourist-pullers on Central Park South. A few older city types (this writer among them) can remember cloppier times."Horsepresence? Tourist-pullers? Cloppier times? Who the hell is this huckst—oh, Roger Angell. I guess that's okay.
Angell, who would be the weirdest and most affected 45-year-old in New York, turns 87 this year, as it turns out. That forgives him some anachronistic phrasings.
Plus, he's the stepson of a great writer. Until I read his intro to the new edition of the semi-sacred "Elements of Style" (and again thought, Who the hell?) I didn't realize that his mom, a New Yorker editor named Katherine Angell, married the "renowned essayist" E. B. White. And that sorts out his pedigree, sort of.
The only real measure of a writer is his writing, of course—the only reason Paul Theroux is still invited to dinner. Angell's prose is admirable, ambling, thick with detail—particularly his meditations on baseball. I remember warmly his tidy comment about the Red Sox after they'd won the pennant, and a longer piece, further back, about a statistics whiz who'd reformed the team's system of scouting.
Tell me this: How do you pronounce his last name? It's one of those ones I'm always afraid of saying wrong, like 'deluge.'