New American Pilgrim

By Marilyn Johnson AARP July 28, 2006 If a mother or a teacher wrote a book about American history and everything you could learn driving around the country, it would bomb. Packed with goody-goody facts, it could never convey the right tone, never be cool. Did you...

Against Normalization: The Lesson of the “Munich Post”

By Ron Rosenbaum LARB February 5, 2017 TRUMP/HITLER?   [This article was first published just weeks after Donald Trump’s inauguration.]    The Trump-Hitler comparison. Is there any comparison? Between the way the campaigns of Donald Trump and Adolf...

b. 1975

By Marilyn Johnson AARP February 24, 2006 After a few decades, you get accustomed to picking up a Joyce Carol Oates book without marveling at its existence—another inspired, ingenious, and compulsively readable tale from someone whose books flow past in a glittering...

Freeing “Pale Fire” from Pale Fire

By Ron Rosenbaum Slate July 23, 2010 You know the line: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” It’s Pacino, complaining about the mob in Godfather III (or maybe about the Hollywood culture that got him to do the much-derided second sequel). Here I’m...

The Novel of the Century

By Ron Rosenbaum The New York Observer December 6, 1999 O.K., I’ll play. You know, the Century-Slash-Millennium List Game. I admit I was reluctant to get into the whole Man -of-the-Century, Movie-of-the-Millennium enterprise. But a couple of things changed my mind:...

To The Beat

By Will Blythe The New York Times July 8, 2010 If you’re like me, you tend to regard plot summaries as a necessary boredom at best. They’re the flyover country between a reviewer’s landing strips of judgment, revealing almost nothing about the way a book actually...

Dylan Brings It Home: Memoir Is a Ballad to the Beat Village

By Ron Rosenbaum The New York Observer October 14, 2004 Thaddeus Stevens? Who knew? One of the least-understood of Dylan mysteries has to do with influences: His music seems to come from everywhere, and from nowhere but him. You can listen to endless droning folk...

Thriller of the Century: The Third Man

By Ron Rosenbaum The New York Observer January 17, 2000 Wait a minute, I’m not finished. I was just getting started. I’ve got more awards to bestow for Bests of the Century. I was just warming up last month when I named Pale Fire Best English Language Novel of the...

Shakepeare’s Badass Quartet

By Ron Rosenbaum The Chronicle of Higher Learning February 7, 2016 Have you noticed that every few years a controversy arises over a claim that an old portrait found in someone’s attic is the true face of William Shakespeare? Most recently the British...

The Art of Hanging Out

By Dan Wakefield The New York Times July 21, 1968 Both as a novelist (Run River, 1963) and as a reporter and essayist, Joan Didion is one of the least celebrated and most talented writers of my own generation (“Silent,” B.A.’s circa mid-1950’s). Her first collection...

Monumental Trivialist

By Seymour Krim Harper’s February 1981 It’s sad to say it, but Frank MacShane’s new biography of John O’Hara (The Life of John O’Hara) is a hell of a lot more interesting for us today, and makes a better novel, than practically all the fourteen novels O’Hara ever...

Vietnam: How the War Became the Movie

By William Broyles Jr. Smart July–August 1990 I have been trading war stories with other Vietnam veterans for two decades. I almost never believe the stories they tell me, any more than you should believe mine. I don’t mean these stories aren’t true, just that they...