- The Deep Blue Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan. Scribner. 438 pp. ***1/2
I was wildly enthusiastic about Jennifer Egan’s previous novel, A Visit from the Good Squad. That book was aesthetically stunning, every chapter from a different point of view, a narrative that was wildly distorted in time, a set of characters that only vaguely related to one another ... Read more
- She Got Her Man Phantom Thread a film by Paul Thomas Anderson. With Vicky Krieps, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville *****
It’s tough to like a movie when you can’t stand the protagonist. But I absolutely loved Phantom Thread. It’s a candidate for my favorite movie of the year.
Reynolds Woodcock—who has a hard name to live up to—is a neurotic, arrogant, ... Read more
- Sex in Heaven Call Me By Your Name a film by Luca Guadagnino. With Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar. ****1/2
First the things I don’t like: Everybody is so good looking. They’re all so intelligent, and talented. This is the kind of movie where people are lying around their Italian villa in the sun, not doing ... Read more
- Choosing Life The Light That Shines Through Infinity: Zen and the Energy of Life by Dainin Katagiri. Shambhala. 229 pp. $16.95.
Jesus’ Son Stories by Denis Johnson. Picador. 133 pp. $15.00
It was unnerving for me to read Denis Johnson’s excellent but disturbing book of stories at the same time I was reading the new book of lectures by ... Read more
- Ain’t Got One The Shape of Water a film by Guillermo del Toro. With Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer. ****1/2
The Shape of Water is a tribute to movies from the fifties, men in suits and fedoras, women in dresses, the Red Menace hovering everywhere, monsters emerging from the deep. Two of its primary characters, Elisa ... Read more
- Mother Battles Daughter. Both Win. Lady Bird a film by Greta Gerwig. With Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges, Beanie Feldstein. ****1/2
I was signed up for this movie as soon as I heard it was by Greta Gerwig. Gerwig is a fundamentally odd performer: her roles are weird, her characters offbeat; she is slightly awkward physically, though beautiful and winning. ... Read more
- People Left Behind The Florida Project a film by Sean Baker. With Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinalte, Christopher Rivera. ****1/2
The Florida Project is simultaneously a touching tribute to the innocence of childhood and one of the most nerve-wracking movies I’ve ever seen. As these adorable children walked around the grungier parts of Orlando, I kept expecting some ... Read more
- True Love Single White Monk: Tales of Death, Failure, and Bad Sex by Shozan Jack Haubner. Shambhala. 208 pp. $14.95.
I was not a big fan of Shozan Jack Haubner’s first book, Zen Confidential. I thought it was overwritten, and that he often seemed to be trying too hard. I did appreciate his honesty, and the way he ... Read more
- Grad Student from Hell The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy. Grove Press. 338 pp. $16.00.
The Ginger Man was one of the famous dirty books from my youth, published by Olympia Press and occupying the shelves alongside Tropic of Cancer, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and My Life and Loves. My freshman college roommate in 1966 showed up with everything trendy in ... Read more
- Bewildered Old Man Stumbles (Not Even All That Old) Battle of the Sexes a film by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. With Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough, Elizabeth Shue, Sarah Silverman. ****1/2
The only tennis game I ever watched in its entirety was the Battle of the Sexes match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King in 1973. In those days when all the ... Read more