| Jan 30, 2009
It's a lovely irony: Gertrude Baines, 114, the world's oldest person, lives in L.A., the world's most youth-obsessed city. It's like finding a vintage Ferrari in a parking lot full of Yugos.
During the 20th century, we added almost three decades to the...
| Mar 18, 2007
MARK MY words: Southern California is about to suffer a major earthquake. Probably a catastrophic fire too. And certainly a real estate collapse.
How do I know this? Because the gods (or Thetans) who look down upon our patch of paradise do not appreciate...
| May 6, 2009
Some years ago, when they still lived in Malibu, the late John Gregory Dunne and his wife, Joan Didion, entertained a prominent magazine journalist and author at dinner. It was December and, afterward, they invited their guest to accompany them to their...
| Jan 25, 2009
California, the media like to tell us, faces an unprecedented fiscal crisis. The budget deficit is $40 billion and growing. The state is so short of cash that, within days, it may issue IOUs, rather than checks, to pay its bills. The Legislature, bitterly...
| Feb 8, 2009
The Spare Room
Henry Holt: 192 pp., $22
When a friend shares that she has late-stage cancer, compassion is easy to come by. We feel the shock of the diagnosis. We grieve for what may be ahead. We jump into action, volunteering...
| Feb 15, 2009
A Jury of Her Peers
American Women Writers
From Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx
Alfred A. Knopf: 608 pp., $30
The title of this, the "first literary history of American women writers ever written," explains Elaine Showalter, comes...
| Sep 14, 2008
Other Press: 272 pp., $24.95
THE publication of new fictions -- the first in more than 20 years -- by one of our most reliable men of letters is an occasion worth marking and measuring. Phillip Lopate is best...
| Sep 29, 2008
I'm ambivalent about Banned Books Week, which runs through Saturday. On the one hand, we clearly still need such a public affirmation, as the recent tumult over Sarah Palin and her "rhetorical" inquiries to the Wasilla, Alaska, public library show.
| Nov 7, 2008
Literary and cultural critic John Leonard, an early champion of Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and many other authors, and so consumed and so informed by books that Kurt Vonnegut once praised him as "the smartest man who ever lived," has died. He...
| Apr 9, 2008
| 9:57 PM
April 10, 2008
NEW YORK -- The late Norman Mailer, a novelist and cultural provocateur who was rarely at a loss for words, was remembered at a memorial service Wednesday as a man whose deep and abiding commitment to the American novel will be his most...
| Jul 1, 2008
Sisterhood—in the family and body politic—can be a beautiful abstraction and a real pain in the neck. It's an evanescent ideal that sometimes takes shape in historic movements. And it's the cosmic force behind Sheila Weller as she tries to...