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Occupational Hazard
August 06, 2007

'Take off your veil!" the Somali soldier shouted at the woman in the mostly empty street. Steadying his assault rifle with his right hand, he ripped away the woman's black niqab with his left. "Why are you coming so close to us? You have explosives?" He leveled the muzzle of his gun against the bridge of her nose. Her mouth, suddenly embarrassed and exposed, broke into a jester's forced grin. "I just want a juice," she pleaded. Except for a handful of armed soldiers, the only other person on the deserted street was a man selling mango juice from behind a table.

Authorial Voice
February 08, 2007

So I turn this morning to The New York Times op-ed page (with my decaf cappucino, skim, I know not a real cappucino), and I see the headline, "How Not to Inflame Iraq." I begin to read it, since I read too many pieces on Iraq and why should I skip this one? Actually, it is not what you would intellectually call "op-ed," assuming that this genre of writing might be literally op-ed, that is in opposition to Times editorial policy. But for a long time that's been a dream deferred. In any case, the article read like echo of Times policy.

Marriage Problems
December 23, 2005

The latest Weekly Standard cover story, "HERE COME THE BRIDES: PLURAL MARRIAGE IS WAITING IN THE WINGS," proves something that its author, Stanley Kurtz, most certainly did not intend it to: The conservative case against gay marriage is growing weaker by the day. Opponents of same-sex marriage have traditionally relied on two strategies to drum up support for their cause: the "ick" factor and the slippery-slope argument. But now, even the staunchest of conservatives must admit that America is becoming more tolerant of homosexuality.

The Bill Clinton Show
August 09, 2004

My Life By Bill Clinton (Alfred A. Knopf, 957 pp., $35) Click here to purchase the book. Bill Clinton used to tell us that he wanted to feel our pain, even though he often gave us one. In this characteristically garrulous volume of almost one thousand pages, he tells us all about his own pain.

The Talented Mr. Malkovich
May 18, 2004

In the introduction to Home Movies I noted that, given the ascendance of video rental over theater attendance, movies are generally reviewed months before most people will see them. One exception, of course, is movies that aren't reviewed at all, having never been released theatrically. Ripley's Game, which Fine Line Features has put out on video after declining to distribute it to theaters, has not quite suffered this fate: A minor cause célèbre, it has gotten some attention in the press, and even enjoyed a three-night, sold out run in New York earlier this year.

Sweet And Low
March 22, 1999

I. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperFlamingo, 546 pp., $26) Barbara Kingsolver is the most successful practitioner of a style in contemporary fiction that might be called Nice Writing. Nice Writing is a violent affability, a deadly sweetness, a fatal gentle touch. But before I start in on Kingsolver's work, I feel I must explain why I feel that I must start in on it. I do so for a younger version of myself, for the image that I carry inside me of a boy who was the son of a sadistic, alcoholic father, and of a mother who was hurt but also hurtful, and abusive.

The Forest and the Trees
August 07, 1995

Landscape and Memory by Simon Schama (Knopf, 652 pp., $40) We rush across the gleaming surface of the ocean, moving rapidly but smoothly above the untroubled beauty of the dark waters. Jagged cliffs and wild surf, rugged hills and lush grass pass beneath us. Music plays. Finally we reach our destination, where the action begins. It may be a prison from which a psychopathic bomber prepares to break out, or a clearing where poor Scottish farmers will discover the hanged bodies of their chiefs, or a village where women will be impregnated by aliens.

Postmodern Picaresque
March 27, 1989

How Paul Auster finally broke out of his own head.

Two Cheers For Irving Kristol
October 30, 1983

Who he was, and was not.

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