Paintball Rembrandt

Ralph Steadman, best known for his savage illustrations accompanying the writing of the late Hunter S. Thompson, is a man who thinks best with pen in hand. But what he thinks can go out of control in a hurry, as Thompson himself discovered on their first assignment together, covering the Kentucky Derby in 1970. It was Steadman's poison pen that nearly got them thrown out of several bars and parties. Sharp-toothed exaggeration and malice aforethought are his meat.So while having a fox trapped in...

The Onion's View of the World Atlas

I love maps. They're useful. They're pretty. And quite often, they're free. I love all kinds of maps—old, new, Mercator, treasure, you name it. And after poring over The Onion's latest parody, "Our Dumb World: Atlas of the Planet Earth," I've decided that I like funny maps best of all.The Onion's map of the United Kingdom, for example, shows the burial site of Mother Goose, a literature mine and the world's grayest building. Ukraine's includes the location of a "headless-doll factory." Like...

Lost in Translations

'War and Peace' has been the Everest of literature for more than 150 years. Two new English versions remind us why Tolstoy's tome is still worth the climb.

A New Mingus Concert

A previously unknown 1964 recording surfaces to supply us with another dazzling look at one of the greatest jazz bands to ever take a stage.

Merv Griffin—the Ultimate 'Jeopardy' Champ

Answer: He created "Jeopardy." Question: Who was Merv Griffin?Answer: He had a hit with "I've got a Lovely Bunch of Cocoanuts" in 1950. Question: Who was Merv Griffin?Answer: He wrote the theme song for "Jeopardy," from which he claimed to have earned $70-80 million in royalties. Question Who was Merv Griffin?Answer: He was the host of one of the first and most widely syndicated daytime talk shows, a show whose format presaged the Jerry Springer era by eliciting all manner of off-the-cuff...

U.S. Soldier's Guide to Iraq—Circa 1943

In 1943, U.S. servicemen stationed in Iraq were issued a pocket-size 41-page book entitled "A Short Guide to Iraq." In straightforward prose, the book gave American soldiers a primer to help them through the cultural snarls and byways of the country in which they were stationed. They learned a little history, a little geography and a smattering of vocabulary and grammar.In light of what we know about Iraq and the Middle East today, the book's contents look a little slight. But when you reflect...

Rolling Credits on Ingmar Bergman

There were times, while watching an Ingmar Bergman movie, when you'd think to yourself, it's like they invented black and white photography just so this man could make films. Bergman and black and white were perfectly complimentary. This was a director who could examine the human condition and see in it innumerable shades—all of them gray. Without slighting his longtime cameraman, Sven Nykvist, it is still possible to say that no filmmaker was ever better than Bergman when it came to finding...

Saying Goodbye to Harry Potter

What a lot of commotion over a book. Not since 19th century New Yorkers anxiously crowded the Manhattan docks to be the first to discover the serialized fate of Dickens's Little Nell have people gotten so excited about fiction. And the scope of this frenzy might make even Dickens blush with envy.The camping out and queuing up to be the first in line as book stores started selling the last installment of the saga of Harry Potter at midnight Friday—the parties, the contests, the costumes—all...

Music: Producer Joe Boyd Recalls the '60s

Joe Boyd had one No. 1 single in his career as a record producer: Maria Muldaur's "Midnight at the Oasis." But if Boyd was never one to crank out a lot of chart toppers, he had something more valuable in the long run: a nearly infallible ear for talent. He was the first man to produce Pink Floyd and a pioneer in the field of world music. Musicians sought him out to produce their albums, as Boyd recalls in his new book, "White Bicycles," a splendid account of music in the '60s that's packed with...

New Book Celebrates America's Show Tunes

Let's begin with a few things that critic and novelist Wilfrid Sheed leaves out of his book about the American popular song circa mid-20th century: "Peach Pickin' Time in Georgia," "Miss the Mississippi and You," "Right or Wrong," "San Antonio Rose," "Stormy Monday," "Smokestack Lightning," "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again," "I Can't Help It if I'm Still in Love With You," "Hey, Good Lookin'," "Crazy" and "Stagger Lee." All of those songs were written or sung to wide acclaim in the period...

Books: The Return of Arkady Renko

I was telling a friend the other day that I was nearly done with the Martin Cruz Smith novel "Stalin's Ghost" and that I was enjoying it. "Well, he's got a good character," my friend commented. My friend is no fool. Arkady Renko, Smith's much-abused Moscow police detective, is, for a fact, a great character. And durable, having now lived through six novels, a trip to Cuba, a sojourn in Chernobyl and an impersonation by William Hurt in the movie of "Gorky Park."Renko is an unwilling hero. He...

Tony Soprano, Harry Potter: The Same Story?

It is, in a way, a sort of split-level love affair. For the past decade, children have been staying up late to finish the latest installments concerning the fortunes of Harry Potter. Meanwhile, downstairs in the TV room, Mom and Dad have been watching the saga of Tony Soprano. Harry got out of the gate a little earlier, in 1997, but Tony, whom we first observed wading after those ducks in his swimming pool in 1999, wasn't far behind. Now the serial stories that have captivated American children...

Murakami's Novel of Night

A few days ago, my daughter, who just graduated from high school, was bemoaning the fact that when college runs out she'll never have summer vacation to look forward to again (this is a young woman who thinks ahead). I told her she was wrong, that summer vacation is a state of mind, and that as soon as the Memorial Day buzzer goes off, your brain somehow switches to a more relaxed frequency for the duration of summer. You may still go to work each morning, or carry on with the everyday...

Books: Philip K. Dick Joins the Club

If there is anyone who would not understand Philip K. Dick's inclusion in the Library of America—those uniform editions of what the Library calls the "best and most significant" American literature—it would be Dick himself. It isn't that he didn't think he deserved to be taken seriously. The honor simply would not fit with the way he saw the world: in his novels, the future is always a sorrier version of the present, a copy of a copy of a copy. But there he stands, alongside Faulkner,...

Books: The Best 'Shrek!' Isn't a Movie

If we're generous, we must allow for multiple Shreks. In order of popularity, there is the Shrek of the movies ("Shrek the Third" opens Friday). Then there is the original "Shrek!" the children's book with story and pictures by William Steig. Now there is an audiobook, "The One and Only Shrek," with the title story and five other Steig tales narrated by actors Stanley Tucci and Meryl Streep. The Steig book, which first appeared in 1990, is still the main event (hey, if there were no Steig...

Review: A 9/11 Novel Worth Reading

When the planes hit the World Trade Center, Don DeLillo was at home in suburban New York, just another man caught up in the event. But like so many other Americans, he had a personal connection to the madness of that day. "When the second tower went down, I punched the wall. My nephew and his wife and two kids were in an apartment building very near the towers," DeLillo told NEWSWEEK in an interview. "They were trapped, and they eventually were rescued. Somehow, before that, we managed to make...

Crime Novelists Compare Notes on Seedy Fiction

Centuries from now, when archeologists sift the rubble to understand our culture, they will be fortunate indeed to uncover the works of Donald E. Westlake. His 45 witty crime novels are as reliable a guide to the foibles and mores of our society as you could hope to find (the 46th, "What's So Funny?," appears April 24). Those archeologists may get a little shiver, however, should they also unearth the works of Westlake's alter ego, Richard Stark, whose dark accounts of Parker, a coldblooded and...

Books: Southern Discomfort

Fifty years—no, not 50, not even 30 years ago, Robert Goolrick might well have not published his memoir, "The End of the World as We Know It." And he wouldn't have had to wait for someone to forbid it or talk him out of it. He wouldn't even have had to argue with himself about it. Because long before it got to that point, he would have heard a voice going off in his head—not a still, small voice, but a firm, no-nonsense Presbyterian grandmother kind of voice—saying, "Where are your...

Lethem's Rock and Roll Romance

I haven't kept strict count, but I'm pretty sure this is only the second time Jonathan Lethem has put a kangaroo in one of his novels. If so, maybe I should stick with the ones with the 'roos. Because I loved "Gun With Occasional Music," Lethem's debut, and I have been only fond, but not wild, about everything since. Now comes "You Don't Love Me Yet," and once I got by the awkward title, I found myself in a bumpy but charming novel about a Los Angeles rock band on its way up. Lethem's not...

Books: When Murder Ruled Chicago

Michael Lesy's "Murder City" is a creepy book. Fascinating, but creepy. Lesy ("Wisconsin Death Trip") focuses on Windy City murders in the '20s, a time and place we all think we know: Capone, Leopold and Loeb, "Chicago"—merely drop the city's name and people start thinking Tommy guns and bathtub gin. Lesy takes his time getting to the notorious gangsters. Most of the perps and victims are people you've never heard of: a man who killed his wife because he wanted to go back into the Army, a man...

Books: Reviewed in Brief

'When the Light Goes' by Larry McMurtryThis is the fourth novel McMurtry has written about Duane Moore. All right, "The Last Picture Show" wasn't just about Duane, and "Texasville" was also an ensemble piece of sorts, but "Duane's Depressed" and now "When the Light Fails" are all Duane all the time. This is partly because people in the story keep dying off. Duane's wife, Karla, died in the previous book, and Ruth Popper drops dead early in this one. (McMurtry kills off characters more...

Books: 'Cat in the Hat' Explained at Last

If you were to approach 10 people on the street and ask each one to recite from any narrative poem, the odds are that maybe one of them could get off a few lines of "Hiawatha" or "The Raven." But if you were to suggest that they could include the works of Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, the chances are that everyone born after 1950, or with children born after that date, could get off not just a few lines but perhaps whole book-length poems. He is, without doubt, the best-known American...

Books: When Murder Ruled Chicago

Michael Lesy's "Murder City" is a creepy book. Fascinating, but creepy. Lesy ("Wisconsin Death Trip") focuses on Windy City murders in the '20s, a time and place we all think we know: Capone, Leopold and Loeb, "Chicago"—merely drop the city's name and people start thinking Tommy guns and bathtub gin. Lesy takes his time getting to the notorious gangsters. Most of the perps and victims are people you've never heard of: a man who killed his wife because he wanted to go back into the Army, a man...

The Cat (and Hat) That Came to Stay

If you were to approach 100 people on the street and ask each one to recite from any narrative poem, the odds are that maybe one of them could get off a few lines of "Hiawatha" or "The Raven." But if you were to suggest that they could include the works of Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, the chances are that most born after 1950--or everyone with children--could get off not just a few lines but perhaps whole book-length poems. He is, without doubt, the best-known American narrative poet of...

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