From 'Album Of Suicides'
January 01, 2007

I’ve known three women who attempted suicide, two of whom were eventually successful. All of them were beautiful. Nan Talbot worked in a publishing house, an editor before I became an editor there. She was incompetent. It was a firm of paperbound reprinters, and she had been engaged some months before I arrived to select and handle books for women. Apparently the bosses had thought that her womanliness would compensate for her lack of editorial experience. They may even have thought that her average taste would be useful in the job. Her appearance was not average. She looked queenly.

From 'Album Of My Mother'
January 01, 2007

In little ways she tried to make me whole. After I finished college, I worked at home in a room where I kept the door locked, whether I was there or not, to separate that small space from everything else. She helped me to be separate, although she didn’t entirely understand why I wanted it. She sorted out my mail in the morning and left it in front of the door of my room with a knick. She fixed meals for me at different times from the others. We rarely talked about my various likes and dislikes in the house, there was no point.

From 'Album Of A Director'
January 01, 2007

The more I learned from CD and worked with the company and learned of the theater’s past, the more I wanted the company to be my future. The more I believed in the company principles, the safer I felt with them wrapped around me and the less I wanted to spend time at anything else. The mere fact of my graduation would make no difference in the centering of my life. I wanted the company to take even more of my time after graduation than it had been taking. I wanted the company to move from its university setting to a being of its own and to grow in recognition.

From 'Album Of Older Women'
January 01, 2007

She was twenty-five and I was fourteen. She was a virgin and I was not. She was my high-school teacher of chemistry, the one teacher in any school who ever gave me a failing grade. Her name was Eleanor Brophy, and she had a touch of Irish accent and a lot of Irish softness. The only time I saw her angry was when one of the boys in the class mocked something I said at the blackboard, where I was fumbling an answer, and she turned on him. My work got worse and worse through the year. I had taken chemistry because I was still obeying a willed ambition to be a doctor.

From 'Album Of A Play Doctor'
January 01, 2007

In 1945 I thought I was a novelist. For ten years, until 1941, I had thought I was a theater man, a member of a repertory company for life, working as one contributor to the production of great plays. That had collapsed. Then for a couple of years I had worked at various magazine jobs to support myself while I wrote novels. Luck with my second novel had allowed me to quit magazine work and to concentrate on writing--novels, mostly. I was hoping to make a long circle back to the theater in some way.

Altering States
November 27, 2006

VOLVER (Sony Pictures Classics) IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS (Typecast Releasing with HBO) It happens to almost every successful director, and it has certainly happened to Pedro Almodóvar: he has entered the Age of the Larynx. In this age, sheer talk--the interview--becomes as much a part of a director's life as anything other than directing itself. Almodóvar interviews flood the press, especially just before a new film appears. He is more supple and funny than most directors can be, but even he can indulge in interview lingo. (From a recent one: "What always attracts me, and it's almost a physical need,

Parting of Ways
October 02, 2006

Old Joy (Kino International) The Beat movement in literature is said to have begun in 1952 with Jack Kerouac and John Clellon Holmes. No such specific date that I know is cited for the movement’s spread to films. (Underground film is something else.) The first Beat picture that I can remember didn’t come until almost forty years later, with Richard Linklater’s Slacker in 1991. Since then there has been a fairly steady stream. I’d dub them Listless Films, even though that term is easy to misunderstand. The people in these films, mostly in their twenties, are not dull or lazy.

Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Slums, Snobs
March 20, 2006

TSOTSI (Miramax) THE FILM SNOB’S DICTIONARY (Broadway Books)  AN OLD MYTH TELLS OF A bird that had to press its breast against a thorn in order to sing, which it then did beautifully. Political troubles have served as that thorn for some writers, and the end of those troubles has, along with its benefits, deprived them of their singing. George Konrád, the Hungarian author of major novels about the travails of life under totalitarianism, has dwindled as a novelist since democracy reached Hungary.

Sorts of Truth
March 06, 2006

FATELESS (THINKfilm)   CONVERSATIONS WITH THE GREAT MOVIEMAKERS OF HOLLYWOOD'S GOLDEN AGE AT THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE (Knopf)       MANY OF US HAVE reservations about the Holocaust as a subject for enacted films. Claude Lanzmann, who made the monumental documentary Shoah, said, "Fiction [about the Holocaust] is a transgression. I deeply believe that there are some things that cannot and should not be represented." Still, even if we too think that we believe this, when a Holocaust film is manifestly serious--one can almost say consecrated--it is hard to resist.

Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Spielberg's List
January 23, 2006

By now the filmgoing world knows that Steven Spielberg has three selves. First is the self most frequently summoned, the maker of superlative entertainments (Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial). His second self applies his talent seriously to serious subjects (Schindler's List, Amistad). The third self produces hybrids, films that use both of the other two selves (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Saving Private Ryan). Spielberg's new film, Munich, was made by the third self.