Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Book Unwritten

There are many books, I’m sure, on your must-read list. Sheldon Ocker’s is not among them, because it doesn’t exist. I’ve said to him, “Sheldon, you’re witty and experienced. And readers would be interested in such a book.” His answer through the years has always been the same: “No.” This is in stark contrast toContinue Reading

Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare: Elizabethan Juxto

The never ending speculation about who wrote Shakespeare’s plays includes the distinct possibility that it was a man named William Shakespeare. If you accept this as a premise, see if you can find a 2008 Recorded Books release of Bill Bryson reading his biography (of a sort), entitled, Shakespeare: The World as Stage. Unlike mostContinue Reading

Munich Memoir: Jim McKay’s Olympics

When the International Olympic Committee declined to allow a moment of silence during opening ceremonies in London to mark the fortieth anniversary of the violent deaths of eleven Israeli athletes, I dug back into chapter seventeen of My Wide World, the late Jim McKay’s memoir. McKay, the most eloquent sports anchor of his day (orContinue Reading

Writing Eulogies

One of the most reliable places to discover good writing is at a memorial service. Not in the first minutes of course. The first minutes usually require adequate solemnity and, in many cases, an array of adjectives that can test credulity. But be patient. A son or daughter (or in the present case a brother-in-law)Continue Reading

Carlos Eire: A Writer’s ‘Insanity’

The backstory of a National Book Award reveals the mindset of the writer, and such a deep sense of purpose that “insanity” became a key to success. When Carlos Eire spent a day recently with students at Fairfield U’s MFA Creative Writing program, he traced his transformation from writer of academic works (he teaches EuropeanContinue Reading

Morley Safer: The Interviewer Interviewed

Last week, I gave a seminar on “making the ask,” the art of the interview. My first question to the students in Fairfield University’s MFA in Creative Writing program was, “Are you shy?” I asked them to raise their hands if they are. Some were too shy to do so. The art of the interview,Continue Reading

Natasha Trethewey’s Call

This is how it’s done. In the early 1990s, you go off to graduate school in Massachusetts, though you are from the south.  You study poetry there, because this will help you make sense of your mother’s murder by her second husband, and other matters including being the daughter of an interracial couple. You comeContinue Reading

Woody Allen’s Steal Trap

What is the statute of limitations on a writer stealing from himself? I considered this point as I watched with a reasonable measure of delight Woody Allen’s latest, To Rome With Love, which packed the local cinema in the fashion of his early works.  In a broad sense, of course, Allen repeats himself often —Continue Reading

Bobbie Ann Mason, Time Traveler

I wrote the novelist Bobbie Ann Mason to ask her thoughts on one of the trickiest tasks of the writer — going back and forth in time. I have been a fan of the author since 1985, when I read In Country, Mason’s novel of the aftermath of the Vietnam War — a subject thatContinue Reading

Nora’s Neck, Meryl’s Eyes

I focus today not on Nora Ephron’s abundant humor — a mighty legacy in itself — but her gift of poignancy. I wish I’d had a chance to ask her about her script of Julie and Julia and its most powerful scene. It is when Meryl Streep, playing Julia Child, and on a stroll inContinue Reading