| Nov 30, 2011
The Age of Movies
The Selected Writings of Pauline Kael
Edited by Sanford Schwartz
Library of America, $40
Witty, entertaining and often exhilarating, this wide-ranging collection of pieces captures the film critic at her best.
| Mar 13, 2011
The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War
Deb Olin Unferth
Henry Holt: 212 pp., $24
In the 1980s, Central America was astir with civil unrest, in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua. While nation-states and their proxies intervened...
| Oct 30, 2011
"Writers," Joan Didion observed in 1968, "are always selling somebody out." It's one of those classic Didion statements, epigrammatic yet personal, a line that unpacks itself the more we consider what it implies. Didion may have been referring to...
| Apr 14, 2011
To face death without the architecture of belief may be devastating, but when endured by gifted writers, it results in a potent genre: the memoir of loss. There was Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking," about the death of her husband, which won...
| May 15, 2011
Say Her Name
Grove Press: 350 pp., $24
Death has taken a conspicuous place in the recent works of several writers. Joan Didion lost her husband and wrote about it, as did Joyce Carol Oates. Elizabeth McCracken lost a baby; Christopher...
| May 15, 2011
When National Book Award-winning novelist William T. Vollmann went to Japan this spring to report on the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant from inside the contamination zone, he did what any journalist would do. He bought a dosimeter to chart the...
| May 22, 2011
1974: Unhappy at summer camp, I holed up in my bunk and read Philip Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint" and Bernard Malamud's "The Natural." The camp might have been awful, but the books were anything but.
1980: In June, I attended a writers conference at UC...
| May 28, 2011
— What makes Jane Fonda say "wow"? A bigger-than-capacity crowd of more than 200 booksellers waiting to hear about her latest, "Prime Time: Creating a Great Third Act," a rousing manual for aging well.
FOR THE RECORD:
| Dec 15, 2011
| 7:27 AM
There's a part of us that secretly likes disasters. Well, maybe not so secretly. That's why Joan Didion's famous riff on the Santa Ana winds — "the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse" — is hauled out several times a year to explain what L....
| Dec 16, 2011
| 2:58 PM
As 2011 comes to a close, we take a minute to reflect on the year's best in the world of publishing. Here is the list of our favorites, all published this year:
"The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain
This gorgeous novel portrays the whirlwind...
| Dec 16, 2011
| 7:01 PM
Christopher Hitchens, the author and Vanity Fair essayist, has died at age 62. Erik Wemple's blog in the Washington Post strings together some memorable tributes to Hitchens, whose writing talents were equalled by his ability to drink others under the...