Malcolm Jones

Stories by Malcolm Jones

  • Marconi--And Cheese

    By grafting together the story of the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the tale of a serial killer who worked that city's darker corners while the fair was in progress, Erik Larson produced a huge nonfiction best seller: 2003's "The Devil in the White City." His new book, "Thunderstruck," apes the formula: this time he links a murder in Edwardian England with Guglielmo Marconi's efforts to perfect the wireless telegraph. But where the story of the Chicago killer provided an effectively lurid contrast to the utopian idealism of the Exposition, the tales here seem to be jockeying for space. And one of them is a lot better than the other.Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen was once a world-famous murderer. In 1910, he killed his wife, chopped her up and buried her in their London basement, then fled to Canada with his sweetheart. He was apprehended, brought back to London, convicted and hanged. The trial drew 4,000 spectators, including Arthur Conan Doyle and W. S. Gilbert; years later,...
  • Hero or Hatchet Man?

    When you pick up "Blood and Thunder," Hampton Sides's new history of how the U.S. government almost destroyed the Navajo Nation in the 1800s, you can't help thinking, "Here we go again" All the usual suspects are present. Again, government and military leaders, besotted with the idea of Manifest Destiny, are unapologetic land-grabbers, and the Navajos are victims of the white man's treachery. But Sides, to his credit, doesn't stop there. Resisting the impulse to think that he's wiser than the people whose story he narrates, he concentrates instead on the mysteries and contradictions in human behavior that compose the heart of all good story-telling. He points out, for example, that the Navajos, while admirable in many ways, were notorious livestock thieves. And they had no problem with slavery, as long as they were doing the enslaving. So things get complicated in a hurry, and in this story, complicated is good. And the man at the heart of it was as complicated as they come...
  • On the Lost Highway

    For a more than decent summary of the plot of Cormac McCarthy's latest novel, "The Road," consult the Library of Congress boilerplate that follows the book's title page: "1. Fathers and sons--Fiction. 2. Voyages and travels--United States--Fiction. 3. Regression (Civilization)--Fiction. 4. Survival skills--Fiction." For that matter, it's not a bad imitation of the novel's style. Using the stripped-down prose that he employed so effectively in his last book, "No Country for Old Men," McCarthy spins an entire novel around two people, a father and his young son fighting their way through a post-apocalyptic world reduced to cold ashes and ruins. The action is equally minimal. The man and boy are traveling out of the mountains and toward the coast, searching for warmer weather and hoping to find someone neither malign nor crazy with whom they can join forces. McCarthy never says what happened to bring the world to cinders. Nor does he name his characters, or tell us how old the boy is or...
  • Mr. Ford’s Mr. Lincoln

    A John Ford movie is a tough sell these days. The sentimentality, the boys-club atmosphere, the broad humor—where the only thing funnier than a bar fight is a longer bar fight—these things don’t play well with modern audiences. If movie fans think of Ford at all, it’s as the man who made a lot of John Wayne Westerns. Never mind that he made more than 140 pictures, starting in the silent era and going right up through the ’60s. His subjects ranged from the building of the transcontinental railroad to PT boat squadrons in World War II, from the Okie migration to Mary of Scotland. He won five Academy Awards. But Ford is not one of those directors, like Preston Sturges or Alfred Hitchcock or Orson Welles, whose movies always manage to feel contemporary. His movies hark back to the 19th century in their outlook and the values they espouse. They are a little antique, a little prim. Still, they are populist in the best sense: he made movies for everyone, although not in the dumbed-down...
  • ‘Bluegrass in Reverse’

    Mike Compton calls the music he and David Long play on their wonderful new album “bluegrass in reverse.” “Stomp” ( Acoustic Disc ), released March 7, features the mandolins, guitars and voices of Compton and Long on 17 songs, some original, several by Bill Monroe, and a good many that date as far back as the 19th century. The general idea, Compton says, is to recreate the sounds that Monroe would have heard before he singlemindedly, if not singlehandedly, invented bluegrass back in the 1930s and '40s.It would be hard to imagine two musicians better equipped to tackle such a project. Compton, whose steady gig is with the Nashville Bluegrass Band, is one of the premier mandolinists now working. Anyone who’s heard the soundtrack from “O Brother, Where Art Thou” knows his work, even if they don’t know his name. He’s also probably the best living interpreter of the hard-driving Monroe style of mandolin. Long has been touring with Compton as a duet act for about three years, and, at 31,...
  • 'I'm Not Dead Yet'

    Richard Thompson isn't doing live interviews to promote this new set, but he did graciously agree to answer a few questions from NEWSWEEK's Malcolm Jones via e-mail. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: Is it still a pleasure to perform? To write? To play music around the house, with friends? Put another way, if money was of no concern, what would you do with yourself?Richard Thompson: Music is absolutely the center of my life. I suppose if I could afford to tour less, I would write more. And a bit more gardening.In the United States, and maybe in the U.K., a songwriter who writes and performs using traditional song forms is usually penned into one sort of box or another. The underlying assumption seems to be that writing and singing with traditional song forms is not the natural thing to do but some sort of tic or gimmick, the musical equivalent of blacking out your teeth and wearing overalls on stage. As someone who has both seriously and wryly contemplated the last thousand years of pop, does this...
  • Not Easily Categorized

    The boxed set has become the de rigueur honor for any aging pop musician who is A.) still around, B.)  still pumping it out and C.)  has enough fans to make it worth someone’s while to produce one of these things. Richard Thompson, who began his career in the '60s as a songwriter and lead guitarist for the English band Fairport Convention, has been at it long enough to warrant his second box! The noteworthy thing is that—drum roll, please—he deserves it. And this new box, “The Life and Music of Richard Thompson” ( Free Reed ), brings its subject into focus so vividly that even those of us who have followed his career over four decades can freshly apprehend his remarkable achievements.Oh, sure, anyone who has ever heard a Thompson album or attended one of his concerts knows he’s a great songwriter, a guitar player with almost no equal and the owner of a voice that, while not perfect, is more than good enough for rock and roll. What may not be so obvious to any but the most obsessive...
  • Cash on the Line

    Being the child of a celebrity means running into some part of your personal life every time you turn the corner. Being the child of a dead celebrity, as Rosanne Cash has discovered since her father's death in 2003, can drive the surreal meter right into the red: "I walked into a store the other day, and I heard my father's voice say, 'I'm not afraid to die.' You know that song 'Personal Jesus'? There it was on the sound system. I just went, whoa, glad to hear it."Being a singer and songwriter in her own right, Cash, 50, dealt with the deaths--in fairly quick succession--of her stepmother (June Carter Cash), her father (Johnny Cash) and her mother (Vivian Cash Distin) the best way she knew how: by making art out of the experience. The stunning result, "Black Cadillac," is an album-length song cycle that maps the territory she traveled after those deaths. Wonderfully crafted, deeply felt, Cash's songs are never maudlin or sentimental. Instead, they walk right up to the trickiest...
  • Walking a Fine Line

    Being the child of a celebrity means running into some part of your personal life every time you turn the corner. Being the child of a dead celebrity, as Rosanne Cash has discovered since her father's death in 2003, can drive the surreal meter right into the red: "I walked into a store the other day, and I heard my father's voice say, 'I'm not afraid to die.' You know that song 'Personal Jesus'? There it was on the sound system. I just went, Whoa, glad to hear it."Being a singer and songwriter in her own right, Cash, 50, dealt with the deaths--in fairly quick succession--of her stepmother (June Carter Cash), her father (Johnny Cash) and her mother (Vivian Cash Distin), the best way she knew how: by making art out of the experience. The stunning result, "Black Cadillac," is an album-length song cycle that maps the territory she found herself in following those losses. Wonderfully crafted, deeply felt, Cash's songs are never maudlin or sentimental. Instead, they walk right up to the...
  • Jazz: Pictures That Swing

    In 1960 William Claxton took the road trip of his dreams. A West Coast photographer already well known for his photos of jazz musicians, Claxton was asked by German writer Joachim Berendt to document a cross-country search for American jazz artists. Like the men and women they were searching out, Claxton and Berendt were great improvisers. So, while they knew generally where they wanted to go--New Orleans, Chicago, the West Coast--they made room for happy accidents. "Most all of the trip was unscripted," says Claxton, now 78. As a result, besides the usual shots of Ellington, Basie, Ella and Miles, there are arresting shots of Georgia Sea Island gospel choirs, bluesmen in Louisiana's Angola Penitentiary and a carnival outside St. Louis. In Memphis, they discovered that no one was still playing traditional jazz. "It was all hard bop by then," Claxton remembers.The results of that far-flung expedition were published as "Jazz Life" in Germany but never in this country, and the book has...
  • Among School Children, McCourt Got Schooled

    As he will be the first to tell you, Frank McCourt almost failed the exam to become a teacher in the New York City schools. "A passing grade was 65. I scored a 69," he recalls over a bowl of oatmeal one recent morning in a Manhattan diner. What saved his bacon was the teaching demonstration. He was assigned to teach a class on the World War I poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, and, as he tells it in his latest memoir, "Teacher Man," a girl in the class began talking about her brother-in-law who'd come home from Korea with no arms--"and all he ever wanted was sex. Sex, sex, sex." Things went downhill from there, but something about McCourt's effort so impressed the English department chairman sitting in judgment that he chased him down the street to say if he ever needed a job, he should just call. But by the time he did, a few weeks later, the man had died. McCourt went back to his job on the waterfront docks. It would be months before he'd land the low-rung assignment of...
  • A Comedy Of Suffering

    Amy Tan means well, but she knows that's not enough. So she did what she does best and wrote a novel about her dilemma. "Saving Fish From Drowning" is not your usual Tan story. It's not about mothers and daughters or the Chinese-American experience. Instead, it's a comic novel about an American tour group kidnapped by Karen tribesmen in the decidedly unfunny military dictatorship of Burma. Completely sympathetic to the plight of those who suffer under the dictators, Tan knew, when she started, the kind of book she did not want to write. "There were books out there that I never would have read about Burma," she said in a recent interview in her New York loft. "They start off depressing, and in the middle there's more that's horrible, and at the end there's the complexity of what this horror is like and I'm left feeling, oh, my God, I'm so sad, there's nothing I can do."Tan gracefully side-stepped that impasse by writing about what happens when colliding cultures misinterpret each...
  • America From Tom to Abe

    Sean Wilentz ends his massive history, "The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln," with a description of a photograph taken in 1865: 13 men, six white, seven black, the jury empaneled to try Jefferson Davis, ex-president of the Confederacy, on charges of treason. To Wilentz, the picture is an apt emblem of "the hopes of the Civil War era as to how a post-slavery United States might look." Sitting in his office at Princeton, Wilentz shakes his head in admiration. "All these white guys and black guys together. And you realize, this is unthinkable five years earlier. And it's a step toward democracy." Another shake of the head, this one more rueful. "But it all came undone. By 1900 it looks blasphemous." He leans forward to drive the point home. "Democracy can come undone. It's not something that's necessarily going to last forever once it's been established."As Wilentz tells it in his book, the story of how democracy took root in this country prior to the Civil War is an...
  • Books: A Lighter Look at Suffering

    Amy Tan means well. But she knows that's not enough. So she did what she does best and wrote a novel about her dilemma. "Saving Fish From Drowning" is not your usual Tan story. It's not about mothers and daughters or the Chinese-American experience. Instead, it's a comic novel about an American tour group kidnapped by Karen tribesmen in the decidedly unfunny military dictatorship of Burma. Completely sympathetic to the plight of those who suffer under the dictators, Tan knew when she started the kind of book she did not want to write. "There were books out there that I never would have read about Burma," she said in a recent interview in her New York loft. "Very important books about what was going on. I never would have read them because they were depressing. They start off depressing, and in the middle there's more that's horrible, and at the end there's the complexity of what this horror is like and I'm left feeling, Oh my God, I'm so sad, there's nothing I can do."Tan gracefully...
  • SNAP JUDGMENT: BOOKS

    Spook by Mary RoachHer choice of subjects--corpses in her last book ("Stiff") and now the search for the soul--suggests Roach is not your average science writer. Funny, inquisitive and uncowed by experts, she's the general reader's ideal emissary to the arcana of serious science. Whether portraying students of reincarnation or sorting through spiritualist mumbo jumbo--and putting the ech back in ectoplasm--Roach's writing has what science has so far failed to find: a divine spark.The City of Falling Angels by John BerendtIt's been 10 years since Berendt published "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and inadvertently rejuvenated Savannah's tourist industry. Venice, the setting for his new book, doesn't need his help. This time, instead of a lurid murder trial, we get a torched opera house--accident or arson? Not a bad formula, but that's what this book is: pure formula.Vita by Melania G. MazzuccoThe winner of Italy's top literary prize in 2003 is a strangely bifurcated book....
  • Monk And 'Trane --Together At Last

    It is the musical equivalent of discovering a new Mount Everest: last February, while digitizing a lot of old Voice of America broadcast tapes, Library of Congress archivist Larry Appelbaum discovered several boxes labeled CARNEGIE HALL JAZZ 1957. One of the boxes had an additional label: T MONK. Listening to the tape, Appelbaum recognized the playing of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane and quickly verified with Coltrane biographer Lewis Porter that this was a rumor made real: a lost recording of a concert at Carnegie Hall by Monk's quartet when Coltrane was the sax player. It is one of the most legendary yet thinly documented partnerships in jazz history--and here was more than an hour of music by the quartet. Not only that, the recording quality was pristine, and the performances were everything you would expect from two geniuses who had been honing their sound every night for five months at New York's Five Spot Cafe.Now released as "Thelonious Monk Quartet With John Coltrane at...
  • Fast Company

    Myla Goldberg talks so fast and so intensely that after 10 minutes with her you feel you've known her forever. Over lunch in a Brooklyn diner you learn--before the food arrives--that she hates to repeat herself as a novelist, which explains why "Wickett's Remedy," in stores next week, is nothing like her debut, "Bee Season." That she grew up in Laurel, Md. --"15 miles from the shopping center where George Wallace got shot"--but couldn't wait to get to New York, where she hopes to live until she dies because "people who walk fast and talk fast don't stick out." That she's 33, has been married five years and has a year-old baby girl, writes five days a week because she likes to think of writing as her full-time job--which is why she's doing this interview at lunchtime, because "that way I can eat and talk and then get right back to work."Whoa there. Can we back up to the part about the novels' being so different? Because fans of "Bee Season," a funny/sad book about a suburban Jewish...
  • Snap Judgment: Books

    --Malcolm JonesGarbo: Portraits From Her Private Collection By Scott Reisfield and Robert Dance ...
  • One For The Road

    When book-sellers go to a convention, they apparently do spend the night reading. This past June, at BookExpo America in New York City, Hyperion Books started handing out prepublication copies of J. R. Moehringer's debut memoir, "The Tender Bar," on a Friday. By Saturday morning, word of mouth had made Moehringer Topic A on the convention floor. No one who's read the book has stopped talking about it since: what conventioneers were calling "the book about the kid growing up in a bar" is poised to be the fall's sleeper hit when it arrives in stores in September. Cynics may scoff, but they haven't read the book.Moehringer, 40, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Los Angeles Times, grew up in Manhasset, a small town on New York's Long Island. His dad, a disc jockey, was "a man of many talents," the son writes, "but his one true genius was disappearing." The kid spends most of the book searching for his father's voice on the radio dial. Raised by his mother, Moehringer was an...
  • DEAR OSAMA BIN LADEN...

    It is hard to imagine an uglier coincidence: Chris Cleave's stunning debut novel, "Incendiary," the story of what happens after a bomb kills more than 1,000 people in a London soccer stadium, was published in England on July 7, the day of the London bombings. (The American edition is out Aug. 2.) No one seemed to know what to do. The publisher pulled its advertising but didn't recall the book; one bookstore chain yanked it out of window displays--but not off the shelves. Cleave, a former newspaperman, launched a Web site in which he asked people if his novel was helpful or hurtful. "A book has more to say than a bomb" was a typical sentiment. Even so, anyone who tackles Cleave's book will find his question a difficult one."Incendiary" is a book-length letter to Osama bin Laden--and arguably the strangest epistolary novel ever written. The writer is a woman who has lost her husband and son in the explosion at the soccer stadium. By turns grief-stricken, raging and bleakly funny, the...
  • GUNS, MONEY AND DOPE IN THE TEXAS DESERT

    Llewelyn Moss, the hero of Cormac McCarthy's new novel, is out hunting antelope near the Rio Grande when he comes across the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong: three Broncos full of corpses and heroin. Not far off lies another corpse and a satchel full of $100 bills. Taking the money, Moss sets in motion a plot that involves vengeful drug dealers, an aging, ruminative sheriff and a hired killer who's so evil he'll kill on a coin toss. After that, not much happens in "No Country for Old Men" besides killing: the body count hits double digits by page 95.In this novel, his first since "Cities of the Plain" in 1998, McCarthy has produced a brutish tale reminiscent of his 1985 noir Western "Blood Meridian." But the baroque prose that counterpointed that earlier novel's violence has been replaced here with a far starker narration that reads like a screenplay for a straight-to-cable thriller. Or so it seems at first. Because the one thing you can depend on in a McCarthy novel is that you...
  • APPRECIATION: SHELBY FOOTE, VOICE OF THE SOUTH

    If Foote, who died last week at 88, had never written "Shiloh," his terse, unsentimental novel about the 1862 Civil War battle, he might not have gone on to become the best-known narrative historian of the Civil War. He certainly would not have become an unlikely celebrity as a result of his involvement in Ken Burns's 1990 PBS documentary about the war. But when "Shiloh," the fifth of Foote's seven novels, was published in 1952, it caught the eye of Random House publisher Bennett Cerf, who asked Foote to write a one-volume history of the Civil War. Foote replied that he couldn't do it in one book; it would take three. And at that point, Foote began a project that would consume 20 years, produce 1.5 million words and secure his reputation as one of the finest nonfiction writers of the 20th century.Foote acted and spoke like a Southerner from Central Casting--the beard, the drawl and the habit of writing with a dip pen all made him look and sound like someone who'd been in the Civil...
  • Big Brother Is Watching

    George Orwell spent five years as one of the British Empire's policemen in Burma in the '20s. The experience provided him with the raw material for his novel "Burmese Days" as well as several of his best essays. It also soured him forever on imperialism. In 2002 Emma Larkin, an American journalist, spent the better part of a year traveling Myanmar--as the ruling military junta has renamed Burma--using Orwell's writing as a guidebook and revisiting locations where he had lived. The more she saw, she says in her sobering journalistic memoir "Finding George Orwell in Burma" ( 294 pages. The Penguin Press. ), the more convinced she became that Orwell had written not one but three novels about the country. "Burmese Days" is a withering description of the British occupation, which he observed firsthand. But his two novels about totalitarianism, "Animal Farm" and "1984," were, to Larkin, hideously predictive of modern-day Burma. When she tested her thesis on the locals, they were quick to...
  • FRIENDS IN LOW PLACES

    You can't read James Frey's memoir "My Friend Leonard" without thinking, this guy Leonard is unbelievable. He's a Las Vegas mobster, a high-level bookie, a bon vivant who can charm young hipsters and stodgy parents, a loving friend who's always there when you need a savvy sounding board, and an expert on just about any kind of visual art you care to mention. And he always picks up the check. But if you plan on confronting Frey with the idea that the main character in the follow-up to his best-selling debut, "A Million Little Pieces," sounds more like fiction than fact, know this: Frey's ready for you. "People always said, 'This guy's too good to be true,' when they met Leonard. And he was," Frey says in an interview in a coffee shop near his apartment in lower Manhattan. "But that's the thing about the people you meet in rehab. Normal, sane, healthy people don't wind up there. Knowing him was completely ridiculous and surreal."A crack addict and an alcoholic by the time he was a...
  • A HIGH-STAKES DEBUT

    Elizabeth Kostova is so squeamish that she has never read a Stephen King novel. It's not that she's afraid of scary stories; she just doesn't like gore. So when she began her novel about Dracula, "The Historian," she promised herself that "I would only spill a cup of blood in the whole book." She pauses to do a little silent calculating and then smiles. "I don't think I exceeded my limit by much." But if Kostova's debut novel is short on gore, it is far from bloodless. The corpses start mounting up early, and the chill factor is severe from start to finish. You don't have to read far to see why Little, Brown paid $2 million for the manuscript, or why the rights have been sold in 28 languages, or why Sony Pictures bought film rights for $1.5 million. Kostova knows how to get the most out of her cup of blood."The Historian" is a long book (642 pages), with no fewer than four stories going on at once. It starts in the '70s, when a 16-year-old girl discovers a strange book in her father...
  • THE VIEW MASTER

    The world according to Lee Friedlander is an unmistakable place. The combination of intention, point of view and subject matter is so distinctive that you could pick one of his photographs out of a lineup every time, though the variety of his work still manages to stun. The Museum of Modern Art, where a retrospective exhibit of Friedlander's work opens on June 5, needed almost 500 images to adequately display his accomplishments. Over half a century, he has photographed nudes, landscapes, himself, street scenes, jazz musicians, factory and office workers, patriotic monuments, plant stems, cacti and graffiti. And that list gives only an inkling of his scope. The MoMA show makes it easy to believe that Friedlander, 70, has shot contemporary life, right down to the vacant lot on the corner, from every angle, in every weather. Anything is a candidate for his camera.Consider the photograph above, made in Las Vegas in 2002. It's part of a series where a car interior is used to frame a...
  • DYSFUNCTION JUNCTION

    If Dede Wilsey's outrage overshadows her stepson Sean's accomplishments as a memoirist, he has himself to blame. "Oh the Glory of It All" is his account of growing up as the rich, spoiled product of a famously broken home. His socialite parents' divorce didn't just get written up in the local San Francisco papers. It got ink in People and the National Enquirer. Wilsey complains about that, just as he whines about nearly every other facet of his childhood. But he saves most of his bile for Dede, the woman who Sean claims stole his father from his mother and then took all the money when Daddy died: "Inside her, I imagine wheels and racks and cogs covered in pink-and-green chintz, with lipstick-stained lapdogs making it all turn. If you want a sense of her values, rent the movies 'Gaslight' and 'Sweet Smell of Success.' The scheming lead in 'Gaslight,' who sweet talks a wealthy heiress into marrying him and then drives her mad with drugs and double-talk, is her."Not surprisingly, news...
  • DINE NOW, SIGN LATER

    Sitting in the Denver Airport one morning in January, waiting for a plane to take him to Los Angeles, Jim Fergus could have passed for a traveling salesman, right down to the carry-on and the frazzled look of a man who was out late entertaining clients. And that's exactly what he had been doing. But Fergus is not a salesman, at least not usually. Most days he's a novelist. And his "clients" were booksellers who met him for dinner at the Tattered Cover bookstore's restaurant, the Fourth Story. His merchandise was his latest novel, "The Wild Girl"--and himself.Fergus had just finished the first leg of what publishers call a presell tour, the latest weapon in the never-ending campaign to persuade readers to buy something besides John Grisham and Dan Brown. The idea is to send writers out months before their books appear. They dine with booksellers and try to persuade them to help the book when it comes out. It's usually not an easy gig, says Robert Miller, president of Hyperion, Fergus...
  • BOOKS: CONJURING UP DARK CLOUDS

    Robert Oppenheimer had a changeling's face. Seen straight on, he was beguilingly handsome. Seen from the side, he was almost goofy looking. He was slue-footed and a klutz around machines. The contradictions were not superficial: a brilliant physicist who dazzled colleagues with his intellectual improvisations, he often alienated the very people he needed to impress. And while he was notoriously absent-minded, he revealed a genius for administration when he oversaw the development of the atomic bomb in little more than two years. A great American success story, he was also a tragic figure, doomed by many of the qualities that propelled him to fame.The eldest son in a wealthy Jewish family in New York City, Oppenheimer grew up coddled--his mother wouldn't let him play with other children--and pampered: he didn't go to the barber, the barber went to him. When World War II broke out, this intellectual prodigy was teaching physics at Berkeley and Caltech--and writing checks to left-wing...
  • Chasing Kubrick

    One of my personal markers of the importance a movie has for me is whether I can remember where I saw it. According to this system, about half of Stanley Kubrick's movies rank right up at the top. I saw "Paths of Glory" as a teenager hooked on staying up late and watching old movies on television. I saw "A Clockwork Orange" as a college student visiting London. I saw "Barry Lyndon" on a long afternoon in a theater in North Carolina with about three other people, "Spartacus" in a tiny revival house that doubled as a Catholic church on Sundays in an upstate New York resort area. What's noteworthy here is that I don't like or even admire all these movies. In the case of "A Clockwork Orange," I dislike it intensely. But that's the thing with Kubrick: you can't just not care. He never gave you that option. Good or bad, what he put up on the screen is indelible.If you toss "The Stanley Kubrick Archives," published this month by Taschen, onto the scales weighing directorial greatness,...
  • PUTTING IT ALL ON THE TABLE

    Eating lunch with Ruth Reichl at a New York City sushi restaurant, you can see right off why she's so good at what she does. When the former food critic for The New York Times and current editor of Gourmet magazine confronts a bowl of soup, she takes her time inhaling the aroma and contemplating the arrangement of ground shrimp and mushroom with eel on top. When she finally digs in she practically jumps up and down. "I love this," she exclaims. "This is so good." Sure, she can write; sure, sure she knows about food. But what finally distinguishes her response is the passion she brings to the table.And now that she's no longer a restaurant reviewer, she can leave her wigs at home. At the Times, as she recalls in her beguiling new memoir "Garlic and Sapphires," if she made a reservation in her own name, the steaks got thicker, the raspberries bigger and the service downright obsequious. To find out how an ordinary diner fared, she had to impersonate one. Tucking her extravagant hair...