| Sep 20, 2009
When I was in my early 20s, living in Berkeley and drifting toward a PhD in Russian literature, I started writing poetry. It was a completely unexpected development. I definitely hadn't been one of those kids in high school who worked for the literary...
| Oct 14, 2009
Tad Friend's "Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor" is a memoir of growing up in the once unassailable American ruling class -- and of a long personal struggle to shed some of the emotional baggage such a lineage conferred....
| Jul 2, 2010
Late spring, give or take a couple of weeks, traditionally marks the end of the theater season. And while taking stock of the last year, I'd like to make note of a group of plays I caught in Hollywood — Helen Mirren in "Phèdre," Richard Griffiths...
| Jun 13, 2009
Harold Norse, a San Francisco poet often associated with the Beats, who was mentor or peer to many of the greatest talents in 20th century American literature, including Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski, has died....
| Jun 29, 2009
As elegies go, it wasn't W.H. Auden. But one had to imagine that Billy Mays, the booming TV infomercial pitchman, would have appreciated the YouTube comment that, despite its misspellings, merged a farewell with yet another testimonial for one of his many...
| Aug 9, 2009
Bloomsbury: 222 pp., $18
Travel writing is a category filled with subsets and divisions, but there are two principal modes. The first is that of discovery -- a voyager sets out to find a place that he or she has never...
| Mar 29, 2009
Translated from the Spanish
by William O'Daly
Copper Canyon Press: 96 pp., $15 paper
"World's End," originally published in Spanish in 1969, toward the end of the career of the great poet Pablo Neruda (he died in 1973, soon...
| Apr 5, 2009
For most people, spending time with a violent, Tabasco-guzzling Oregon anarchist, a teenage member of the Aryan Brotherhood, opera-loving lawyers whose dog fatally mauled an innocent woman and an eternally wired, drugged-out Hollywood agent would not be...
| 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...
| Aug 18, 2010
The concluding volume in the magisterial historical tetralogy Richard Rhodes calls "The Making of the Nuclear Age" bears a weighty subtitle that hints at its somewhat discursive nature.
"The Twilight of the Bombs: Recent Challenges, New Dangers, and...
| Jan 23, 2011
In 1984, when he was 51, novelist Reynolds Price learned that a pencil-shaped tumor, about 10 inches long and malignant, had invaded his spine. Several surgeries and dozens of radiation treatments followed, leaving him a paraplegic racked with pain and...