| Mar 29, 2009
Patrick White, the first great novelist to come out of Australia, was born in 1912, won the Nobel Prize in 1973, died in 1990 and his work promptly dropped from fashion. His style of narrative-driven psychological modernism seemed outmoded, perhaps,...
| Aug 30, 2009
" 'I must not,' said Jane, 'think of rats.' And proceeded to think of them as hard as she could." Bland, boring sentence, right? When I tell class after class of writing students that this one sentence -- plucked many decades ago from a children's book...
| Dec 13, 2009
Ben Hecht used Oscars for doorstops and routinely heaped scorn on the studio pontiffs who, throughout the 1930s and 1940s, paid him an average of $3,500 a day. Before he co-wrote "The Front Page," the play that brought him fame and opportunity, before...
| Jun 21, 2009
The Essays of Leonard Michaels
Farrar, Straus & Giroux: 206 pp., $26
Until Leonard Michaels was 5 and learned English in school, he spoke only Yiddish in the Lower East Side enclave where his Polish-Jewish parents raised him. And maybe...
| Oct 4, 2009
Aldous Huxley: "The Devils of Loudun" (HarperPerennial)
In 1643, an entire convent in the small French village of Loudun was apparently possessed by the devil. The convent's charismatic priest was eventually convicted of seducing the nuns in his charge...
| Sep 21, 2009
Leon Kirchner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer of expressive, rigorous, atonal yet romantic music, died Thursday of congestive heart failure at his home in New York. He was 90.
A pianist and conductor as well as a composer, Kirchner stood somewhat...
| Jan 20, 2010
Erich Segal, a Yale University classics professor whose first novel, the weepy "Love Story," became a pop-culture phenomenon, selling more than 20 million copies in three dozen languages and spawning an iconic catchphrase of the 1970s, died Sunday in...
| Apr 30, 2011
Created by FDR in 1935, in the depths of the Great Depression, the Federal Writers' Project (a small part of the wider Works Progress Administration) was a make-work agency that gave jobs to about 6,500 writers, editors and researchers before closing shop...
| Dec 26, 2010
Saul Bellow, edited by Benjamin Taylor
Viking: 608 pp, $35
Saul Bellow, being Saul Bellow, coined literary profit from emotional tumult. From personal pain came self-exploration and impish bons mots, poured into the heightened confessional of...
| Dec 15, 2011
| 9:57 PM
Christopher Hitchens, the engaging and enraging British-American author and essayist whose polemical writings on religion, politics, war and other provocations established him as one of his generation's most robust public intellectuals, has died. He was...
| Sep 23, 2012
"A poet," Louis Simpson once wrote, "should wish for enough unhappiness to keep him writing."
Simpson may not have wished for trouble, but he kept writing for 60 years — spare, powerful poems about war, infidelity, suburban alienation and other...