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In the Month of His Birth, A Little Touch of Shakespeare in the Night

Shakespeare, he’s in the alley with his pointed shoes and his bells …. —Bob Dylan You read me Shakespeare on the rolling Thames, that old river poet who never, ever…

Waiting for the Glass Family: A J.D. Salinger Experience on His Double Anniversary Year

It’s the first day of March and I’m at the new hospital lying on a gurney, unsedated and edgy, nothing to do, no TV I can watch old movies on,…

Reflections on the Crown Jewel of Manhattan’s Literary Hotels

We went to the Algonquin for lunch …. We sat in a big round booth built into the wall that felt cozy like a clubhouse. —Margaret Salinger   I can’t…

Bargain Days at Bryn Mawr, An Interrupted Conversation, and A Sunset in Trieste

With apologies to Robert Browning’s “Rabbi Ben Ezra,” but at the Bryn Mawr–Wellesley book event, “The best is yet to be, the last of the sale, for which the first…

Remembering My First Bryn Mawr Book Sale and a Man Who Was Interested in Everything

My early and invincible love of reading I would not exchange for all the riches of India. —Edward Gibbon I bought no books at my first Bryn Mawr Book Sale,…

Living in Dostoevsky: Joseph Frank’s Acclaimed Biography Was Born in Princeton

In Beat Generation scripture Carl Solomon asks Allen Ginsberg, “Who are you?” to which Ginsberg instantly replies, “I’m Prince Myshkin,” asking the same of Solomon, who says, unhesitatingly, “I’m Kirilov.”…

“Darconville’s Cat”: The Power and Glory of Vengeance Writ Fantastically Large

If this column were a film, I’d begin with a close-up of Robert Mitchum’s hands in Night of the Hunter (1955), where he plays a psychopathic preacher who has LOVE…

“Double Indemnity’s” Seven Oscar Nominations Helped Ignite the Film Noir Boom

While channel-surfing the other night, I found myself watching the beginning of a film I’d already seen and had no intention of seeing again. That’s Fred MacMurray slumped at a…

As Grand Central Marks 100 Years, New York Deserves a Lifetime Achievement Oscar

People on their busy way across Grand Central’s main concourse the evening of February 1 stopped and looked up, struck by the sudden appearance of rows of lights dancing in…

Struggling Couples, Silly Love Songs, and a Valentine’s Day Conception

Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs …. —Paul McCartney from “Silly Love Songs” By all rights, George Stevens’s 1941 film Penny Serenade should be to Valentine’s…