Top of the Stack
Helen Dudar was one of the premier newspaper and magazine writers of the second half of the 20th Century—that the only thing separating her from the more notorious journalists of the day was her want of any talent at or will for self-promotion.
Hitchhiking, thumb up on some dusty road with the diesels honking and the curious kids in the back of the station wagons blinking their eyes, was the only way to go.
“My standard for a performance is that I forget I’m seeing an actor and think I’m watching a human being. I believe this in my bones.”
“Preparing for a role is like hearing a tune in your head but when you try to sing it out loud you can’t quite get it right. What I aim for is to reach that point when the tune I sing perfectly matches the tune I hear in my mind.”
Jeff MacGregor once called this 1949 column by W.C. Heinz, “the Gettysburg Address of sportswriting. A run of words so slender and moving that nothing can be added or taken from it.”
Just because somebody is quiet doesn’t mean he isn’t paying attention.
Rip Torn made his reputation the old fashioned way—he earned it.
William Broyles Jr. on the history of the Vietnam War in Hollywood.
“You can’t write without trying to get into somebody else’s skin. If you don’t understand the humanity of a person you can’t write about them.”
At last we have “A Death in the Family” that appears closer to the author’s original intention. It serves as a fresh reminder of the wondrous nature of Agee’s prose—unabashedly poetic, sacramental in its embrace of reality, and rhythmical as rain on a Tennessee tin roof.
Rather than just another “old head” peering querulously at a new generation of players through the chain-link fence of a court he once ruled, the Wideman of Hoop Roots is a tortured solitary desperately looking backward, trying to collect enough of the past to give him strength in a darkening future.
The delicate chain of memory crumbles, link by link, until there is nothing left. The family cannot continue if there is no common history, no shared memory. We become lost.
In an interview after winning the Nobel Prize, Saul Bellow contended that most people don’t pay any mind to writers, and his assessment struck me as correct.