Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 14, 2011 9:06PM

My Paul Simon Collection

 

 songwriter

Much as I admire Paul Simon, I’m sick to death of his Greatest Hits collections. They’re relentless. Only the Mamas and the Papas (It seemed like they had one album and dozens of Greatest Hits albums) impose on our admiration and exploit our ‘completionist&rRead full post »

 

 bar

 

When I first heard the joke ,years ago, I thought the subtext was something about American ingenuity, and the good natured P.T. Barnum con-men who gave America its lively carnival atmosphere – greed tempered with mischief and a devilish wink of the eye.

Now I knowRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 10, 2011 5:07PM

"The Phantom Tollbooth" at 50


 tollbooth

 

This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth (with illustrations by Jules Feiffer). In honor of that milestone, Random House has put out a new edition, complete with essays by various notable fans on what the book meant to them,Read full post »

 

 x factor

The X-Factor is over-directed, over-produced, over-hyped and hyperactive. It's loud and garish and jittery. Its ADD jump-cutting is designed for a zero attention span twelve year old. It  has everything going against it, even its ostentatious $5,000,000 prize and it's ugly,… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 28, 2011 9:30AM

The Unexamined Life: Talking to my Bully.

 

 Young author

 

This happened a while ago, back in the days of answering machines with tape cassettes. I made the call and taped it, and got Bob’s permission to type it up. He didn’t care. That was typical of him. I never did anything with those pages, though.Read full post »

 
 TN
 
First off, let me just say that Spielberg's big new Sci Fi extravaganza is well produced and entertaining. The actors are solid, the situations are comfortably familiar and the dinosaurs look real. The sentimental moments are actually affecting (the orphaned love interes… Read full post »
SEPTEMBER 21, 2011 10:45AM

"A Splendid Caper"

 

 

 Lenox Hill

 

 

Harlan Mallory had always hated hospitals. Ruth called them “Germ convention centers” and insisted on giving birth to Robert at home. “I would no more have a child in a hospital because there was a chance that something might goRead full post »

SEPTEMBER 4, 2011 8:38AM

The Grand Tour, Part Two.

 

 5 th precinct

 

It was getting dark by the time we reached the West Village.  We cut down east from Abington Square Park and wound up on Hudson Street in front of the White Horse. They still had tables set on the sidewalk. We grabbed one and ordered aRead full post »

 

boxing 

 

I heard the news about Oliver Graeme at three in the morning on the sidewalk outside the fifth precinct in Manhattan, twelve hours after Susan Jelleme told me night court was out of the question.

          “What’s/Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 27, 2011 6:44PM

The Leaf Blower and the End of the World

 

 leafblower 

 

The gardeners are back today.

Collectively, working at different times at all the houses in the wealthy neighborhood where I rent a small house, the noise level they create renders this particular patch of luxury real estate almost uninhabitable throughout the sRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 8, 2011 5:32AM

In Her Sleep: My Mom Curing Parkinson's Disease, Nightly

 Mom and her mom

     My Mom & her Mom, circa 1925

 

 

My Mother called me from inside her dream last night.

It wasn’t a psychic experience; she used her cell phone.

My own phone started ringing in the middle of the night. I lurched out of bed,Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 2, 2011 5:57PM

Life in the Surreal Sweet-Spot of Our New Non-Economy

 

 Foreclosure

If things get bad enough, they can turn out pretty well.

That’s the lesson my friend Dave learned recently. A year ago he was in deep trouble, struggling to pay a three thousand dollar a month mortgage, one late payment away from foreclosure, his interest rate steadilyRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 28, 2011 5:23PM

Jack Kirby Loses Again

 

 Kirby t work

The film version of Thor was a smash hit a few weeks ago, the Captain America movie looks to surpass it at the box office this weekend, on the heels of The  two Fantastic Four films, two more featuring the Incredible Hulk,  and an entire franchise built around… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 15, 2011 8:21AM

Leaving Dillon, Texas: Farewell to "Friday Night Lights"

 

FNL   

 

The final episode of Friday Night Lights airs tonight, ending a scrappy five season run. It took  the DirecTV satellite network co-financing the show to keep it on the air, in a unique deal that allowed them to air Friday Night Lights before NBC. So for Sa/Read full post »

 

 

 merit students

This post originally appeared in the internet literary journal Numero Cinq

 

Salesmen Wanted

It was July, 1971 and Manhattan was molten in the summer heat. The air wavered over the softening asphalt and walking the furnace streets I felt like I’d been dippedRead full post »

 

Main Street 

             Back at the house, Julia turned to him as he came in. “You have the oddest book collection I’ve ever seen.”

“But I’ve read them all. That’s the difference.”

“You have Proust -- &rdqRead full post »

wauwinet

 Harlan Mallory stood at the podium, upstairs in the great Hall at the Nantucket Atheneum, talking about his Viet Nam paintings and wondering how he had won this dreary trifeca of social obligations: visitors down from the city, an evening spent with the relentless Julia Copenhaver, anRead full post »

         

 Earl

 I just feel like a total failure, okay?

I had so much potential, that’s what everyone was saying, how much potential I had. I envy old people, no tells them about their potential, they don’t have to disappoint anyone. I started outRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 4, 2011 9:05AM

Mimi Beman's Nantucket: A Eulogy

 

Nantucket+theater 

It’s a common story: lovely small town or coastal community (Nantucket is both), languishes for years as the slightly seedy refuge for old money and new hippies, until the new rich people discover it, and start turning it into a warped version of their own gated communitiesRead full post »

 

HBO Thrones 

 

I had a lively a post-mortem conversation about Game of Thrones, the recently concluded HBO mini-series, over dinner with my friend Neil last night. Afterward I thought about  a meeting I took at a Hollywood studio many years ago. They were looking for someone to adapRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 26, 2011 3:21PM

Peter Falk and the Lost World

 

Husbands 

 So Peter Falk died last week, and someone posted the 41-year old video of his appearance on the Dick Cavett Show  with John Cassavetes and Ben Gazzara. It was exhilarating to watch, but also sad and profoundly disturbing -- a time-capsule message from another era, or p… Read full post »

 

 Perry

 Thomas Perry

 

 

The Informant, Thomas Perry’s  nineteenth novel, was published last week. It’s an appropriate occasion to step back and take a look at this extraordinary, underrated author’s body of work.  His first novel, The ButcherRead full post »


 The Munt at work

 

 

A small mercenary army of  writing instructors have been making a good living for decades now, dispensing advice to hopeful neophytes, creating systems and structures, plans and pie charts, creating a step-by-step creativity that reduces a novel or screenplay toRead full post »

APRIL 18, 2011 7:27AM

Voodoo Economics

 

 

images

The Republicans have all the good catch phrases.

But one of the most revealing aspects of our new political "discourse" is that they have moved so far to the right that Democrats can now use their old catch-phrases against them. It was George H.W. Bush who coined… Read full post »

APRIL 13, 2011 9:58AM

Artist in the City: At First Sight

 

 

56th &Lex

I closed my mother's diary. The train was pulling into the Fourteenth Street station, six stops beyond the one I wanted. I jumped up, stuffing the notebook back into my pocket, shoved my way to the door and out onto the platform. I pulled out my cell toRead full post »