‘Hot’ Sex & Young Girls
On the obsession with the sexual and social habits of American teenage girls.
Why the Very Poor Have Become Poorer
More and more Americans are trying to survive on less than $2 a day.
The Brilliant, Troubled Dorothy Parker
“The tragedy of Dorothy Parker, it seems to me, isn’t that she succumbed to alcoholism or died essentially alone. It was that she was too intelligent to believe that she had made the most of herself.”
On the 1988 presidential election and the boys on the bus.
“American reporters ‘like’ covering a presidential campaign (it gets them out on the road, it has balloons, it has music, it is viewed as a big story, one that leads to the respect of one’s peers, to the Sunday shows, to lecture fees and often to Washington), which is one reason why there has developed among those who do it so arresting an enthusiasm for overlooking the contradictions inherent in reporting that which occurs only in order to be reported.”
The Fierce Courage of Nina Simone
“I’ll tell you what freedom is to me: no fear. I mean really, no fear!”
Windows on the Will
A trip to the zoo, Charlie Kaufman’s new film, and human despair.
The Mystery of ISIS
How a tattooed video store clerk with a history of drinking and drug use ended up at an Islamic self-help class leading to the birth of ISIS.
The Amazing Inner Lives of Animals
Dolphins may have the capacity for mourning, and elephants sometimes bury their dead.
The Elmore Leonard Story
How the prolific crime novelist did his work.
On America, Christianity, and “ignorance, intolerance, and belligerent nationalism.”
The Movies of My Youth
The aftereffects of youthful escapes into movie houses.
The Pope and the Planet
The Pope’s vision for addressing climate change.
Rescuing Wonderful Shivery Tales
Creating – and revising – the Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm.
Dreams and Anna Karenina
On the particular genius of Tolstoy.
Training Young Doctors
On the failing institution of the teaching hospital.
A Strangely Funny Russian Genius
“Russian humor is slapstick, only you actually die.”
The Best Years of Our Lives
Memories of “Hollywood’s most grinding bore,” Ronald Reagan.
The Perils of Pauline
One famous critic (Adler) takes another (Pauline Kael) to task for a collection of reviews that is “without Kael- or Simon-like exaggeration, not simply, jarringly, piece by piece, line by line, and without interruption, worthless.”
Joan Didion versus the boys on the bus:
American reporters “like” covering a presidential campaign (it gets them out on the road, it has balloons, it has music, it is viewed as a big story, one that leads to the respect of one’s peers, to the Sunday shows, to lecture fees and often to Washington), which is one reason why there has developed among those who do it so arresting an enthusiasm for overlooking the contradictions inherent in reporting that which occurs only in order to be reported.
The Master Writer of the City
Joseph Mitchell used composites in his non-fiction, invented characters and added flourishes to his facts. Does it matter?
A General Feeling of Disorder
A treatment for liver cancer gives the writer a fresh perspective on illness – and wellness.
Remembering Orson Welles
The great director always refused to get liposuction.
On Sylvia Plath
She was not just a poet, she was an “event” in American literature all by herself.
Some Different Ways of Looking at Selma
The dramatic liberties a much-heralded film takes with historical fact show how hard it is to get complexity onto the big screen.