- He Cared Too Much Stories by John O’Hara. The Library of America. 860 pp. $40.00
John O’Hara was an Irish Catholic and doctor’s son from Eastern Pennsylvania who believed—apparently for much of his life—that he would have been a happy man if he had just gone to Yale. That didn’t keep him from getting booted from three prep schools, one ... Read more
- Overwhelmed The Happiness that Takes Some Time to Ripen
We had sat down for the reception at my niece’s wedding—tables of eight arranged all around the room—when I realized how my brother had seated us. It was the three living siblings from my generation—Bill, Rusty, and me, with our wives—along with our sister’s oldest child Tade and ... Read more
- Why Can’t We Live in Paradise? Reflections on the Words of a Homeless Man
At the homeless shelter where I volunteer, I was interviewing a man who was being admitted, and was following the prompts of a questionnaire.
“Do you have any disabilities?” I said.
“No. No disabilities.”
“Let me read the list,” I said. The last one was Drug Abuse.
“Yes,” he said. “Drug abuse. ... Read more
- Pip Pip Hooray! Purity by Jonathan Franzen. Picador. 598 pp. $17.00. *****
I had an odd and unique experience reading Purity. I got slightly bogged down in the book’s first section, which focuses on the title character; her name is Purity but she goes by Pip. She seemed clueless and helpless, living with a collection of strange roommates, burdened ... Read more
- The Paradox of Desire The 10,000 pages of the Pali Canon (Most of which I haven’t read)
I have spoken before of an Amazon reviewer that I stumbled across some years ago, a woman named Laurie from New Zealand who writes wonderfully informed and opinionated reviews. Most of them are favorable, but occasionally she gets puckish, especially with contemporary spiritual ... Read more
- Doc, Ya Gotta Level Wit Me Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2017
My Lineup: Whose Streets? / Still Tomorrow / The Good Postman / Abacus / Zaatari Djinn / Tribal Justice / Strong Island / Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities / Quest / The Force / May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers
At ... Read more
- Distinctly Praise the Years Atlantis: Three Tales by Samuel R. Delany. Wesleyan/New England. 212 pp.
Every now and then I reread something by Samuel R. Delany because all of his work is intelligent, beautifully written, and unfailingly deep. The fact that I’ve read it before doesn’t in the least diminish it. I love spending time in the presence of such ... Read more
- You Gotta Start Somewhere Beginners a film by Mike Mills. With Ewen McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent, Mary Page Keller, Cosmo.
I have the perfect solution for those who loved 20th Century Women and don’t know what to watch next (after they’ve read the profile of director Mike Mills in the New Yorker): watch Mills’ previous film Beginners, which streams ... Read more
- Maybe Not This Village Twentieth Century Women a film by Mike Mills. With Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Lucas Jade Zumann. ****1/2
When I first heard the title of this movie, I thought, what the hell is a twentieth century woman? How is she different from a twenty-first century woman? But now that I’ve seen it, I think the ... Read more
- The Poetry of Everyday Speech Fences a film by Denzel Washington. Screenplay by August Wilson. With Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo.
When I was a young man growing up in Pittsburgh, I wanted to be the writer who put the city on the map. I read Theodore Dreiser’s Newspaper Days; he’d spent some time in the city, and ... Read more