What Novak wants to do, at 76 and after 50 years of reporting in Washington, is to keep working. In 1994 he had surgery in Los Angeles to remove a cancer from his lung on a Monday. It is exhausting just to read what he did next:
"I was released from the hospital [in Los Angeles] Thursday morning, worked on columns from my hotel room Thursday and Friday, went to the movies (Clear and Present Danger) Thursday night, flew back to Washington Sunday, and was at work in my office Monday, August 14, one week after surgery."
Through the fall he kept close enough attention to keep raising the number of House seats he was predicting Republicans would pick up, to the point that he was one of the few journalists to predict that year's Republican takeover. I was one of the others, writing in a U.S. News column in July that there was a serious possibility Republicans could capture the House, and I know how lonely I was.
As an optimist, I find many political developments depressing; as a pessimist, Novak sees them as part of a history of human folly from which he takes consolation from his conversion to Catholicism, here gracefully described. Anyone interested in politics, journalism, and the course of public events over the last 50 years who does not buy and read The Prince of Darkness is denying himself one of the pleasures that life on this earth very seldom offers.
By Michael Barone