Editors' Picks: Best Books of 2010
December 22, 2010
The Bars of Atlantis: Selected Essays by Durs Grünbein Reviewing this collection of essays by Germany's pre-eminent contemporary poet, Helen Vendler wrote that "If Yeats’s aim was to hold in a single thought reality and justice, then Grünbein’s is to hold in a single thought poetry and philosophy." This book contains my favorite quote of the year.
Angels and Beards
January 26, 2004
Tony Kushner's new play, Caroline, or Change is a formal anomaly. It has been hailed as a breakthrough musical created by a confident professional collaborative—vigorous score by Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie), lively choreography by Hope Clarke (Spunk), and dynamic staging by George C. Wolfe (Jelly's Last Jam).
On Films: Examined Lives
February 25, 2002
The Italian film-maker Nanni Moretti has had a schismatic career. Almost unknown in America, he is a critical and public darling in Europe, a winner of festival prizes. Because he writes and directs and stars in his films and because his roles are generally quiet and thoughtful, and sometimes thoughtfully comic, he has been compared to Woody Allen. (No physical resemblance: Moretti is tall, slim, bearded, good-looking.) This is to compare George Gershwin with Stephen Sondheim simply because each wrote smart songs about contemporary life.
No Time for Comedy
October 08, 2001
I was hoping to do a review this week of the late-summer London theater season, but like everyone else in America I had to change my plans. Writing drama criticism seems very trivial labor after watching the herculean efforts of police officers, fire fighters, and city workers to retrieve the remains of victims buried under the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. How does one continue to evaluate plays in the face of all that grief and all that rubble? It is being said that among the many things destroyed forever by the terrorists was our innocence. They may also have killed--I hope temporari