November 18, 2012
Few authors manage to shuffle off this mortal coil just as their final, finished work hits bookstores. Heirs are understandably tempted to let those incomplete works come to light -- with varying degrees of success. Ernest Hemingway's "The Garden of Eden" Begun in 1946, it was published in 1986, 25 years after Hemingway's suicide. Two thirds of Hemingway's unwieldy manuscript was excised. E.L. Doctorow lamented, "this cannot have been the book Hemingway envisioned. " Generally awful, it is remembered mostly for its explicit threesome scenes.
August 29, 2012 |
“Ghost-Writer,” now in its West Coast premiere at International City Theatre, starts off sluggishly, with an extended expositional monologue that, while poetical, seems a somewhat logy way to commence. Ignore that static prelude. Playwright Michael Hollinger, who has penned such well-regarded works as “Opus” and “Incorruptible,” soon has us in the grip of his assured creative hand. The play was inspired by an anecdote about Henry James' secretary, who claimed she continued channeling the master's words after his death.
April 30, 2012 |
At the peak of Richard Chamberlain's thrillingly malevolent performance in “The Heiress,” the audience at the Pasadena Playhouse started hissing. If we had had tomatoes, we probably would have thrown them. The theater might want to frisk future ticketholders for produce, or add an anger-management session to the bill: It's that hard to handle the emotions provoked by this gorgeously directed and acted revival. You might not think you'll be so invested in the marital prospects of a young woman in New York society in 1850, especially since Ruth and Augustus Goetz's “The Heiress” (1947)
April 1, 2012 |
My assignment: Read almost 300 literary biographies in more than 800 pages, all of English-language authors, beginning in the 17th century and ending in the present day. "That's like reading a reference book!" said a shocked friend. Yes, but no: Every entry in "Lives of the Novelists" is written by just one person, British critic John Sutherland, so the book has an internal continuity that makes it read like history, not an encyclopedia. And Sutherland's writing is just plain delightful.
November 7, 2010 |
Foreign Bodies A Novel Cynthia Ozick Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 256 pp., $26 Cynthia Ozick's sixth novel, "Foreign Bodies," is a piece of literary sleight of hand: It is modeled on Henry James' 1903 novel, "The Ambassadors," the story of an American who travels to Paris in pursuit of his patron's wayward son only to find himself enthralled by the city's sophistication. "Foreign Bodies," though, is neither homage nor update; it is instead a counterpoint. Ozick may consider James an inspiration ?
July 6, 2008 |
A biographer's task is simple: to make history into a compelling tale. But the novelist who chooses to add his own layer to the palimpsest of real-life events has a far more complex challenge -- to make sure story isn't overwhelmed by back story. And telling a rollicking saga that never happened using people and events that did is yet another animal altogether.