January 26, 2003 |
Elvis has had the most extraordinary life since he died on Aug. 16, 1977. At that time, some 50,000 fans rushed to Graceland to mourn him. On the 10th anniversary of his death, 55,000 pilgrims arrived there and turned it into a World Event, with the media racing to catch up with what was, in effect, his deification. Then came the sightings, and on his birthday in 1993 came the stamp -- the most successful issue in postal history. Suddenly, it was all right to love Elvis: Everybody did.
August 12, 2001 |
MASTER CLASS Scenes from a Fiction Workshop By Paul West; Harcourt: 260 pp., $24 In a book full of conundrums with a cast of brilliant characters, here is the conundrum that rankles Paul West, the teacher of this master class in fiction writing: "When you hone the average into being superior, you are making them less publishable; so what on earth do you do with as bright and gifted a bunch as this, already superior from reading and practice, ready to be, if lucky, virtuosos?"
May 24, 1999 |
Most Americans nowadays grow up in cities or suburbs. Many have never even spent time on a farm. Yet somehow, the basic elements of country life seem strangely familiar. Perhaps this comes from having watched "The Waltons" or "The Andy Griffith Show." Or from being exposed to country music. And, of course, long before country became a staple of mass media, there were generations of writers, from Sarah Orne Jewett, Hamlin Garland and O.E.
October 24, 1993 |
As "Feather Crowns" opens, it is 1900. A Kentucky farm wife is giving birth to quintuplets, the first ever recorded in America. As I read, I became deeply worried--needlessly, as it turned out--that this long novel was going to be another paean to the good old days of subsistence farming, when life was hard but hearts were hardy--the primordial Waltons myth that always sustains Americans when urban going gets tough.
October 4, 1993 |
She was fresh off a western Kentucky farm and frazzled by the big city. Bobbie Ann Mason had never lived in a metropolis before, and when she moved to New York in 1962 to work for Movie Star and TV Star Parade magazine, she attempted what many Southerners had done before. She tried to lose her accent. E-n-u-n-c-i-a-t-e, friends told her. Lose that mush-mouth, honey, and get with the program. Mason did her damnedest but failed miserably. A good thing it was.
March 11, 1990 |
A ruminative novel about the love and interdependence that bind a taciturn farmer and his gregarious wife. When Lila has to undergo surgery for breast cancer and arterial blockage, the sophisticated technology of modern medicine forces the couple to confront the coldly mechanized world of the '80s, which they have managed to keep at arm's length. Their Kentucky farm has become a retreat to an older time and a mellowed vision of agricultural life.