writer

I don't wish to join Isaac in piling on Matthew Continetti's love letter to Sarah Palin in the Weekly Standard. Wait. Let me re-phrase that. I do wish to join Isaac in piling on Matthew Continetti's love letter to Sarah Palin in the Weekly Standard. I know I shouldn't but I can't resist. Here's a passage that gives you an inkling of the method Continetti used to compile his argument: Whenever the arbiters of educated opinion witness the emergence of a populist leader, they spew insults.

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Abdullah vs. Karzai

Kabul, Afghanistan  The spectacle of Afghanistan’s presidential elections seems to be finally entering its final act. Pulling out of the runoff race at the last minute, Abdullah Abdullah has cleared the way for Hamed Karzai to be the winner by default.  Both men appear to have achieved many, if not all, of their original goals. Karzai, of course, has retained his seat for another five years. Abdullah, the underdog, has denied Karzai the much-needed legitimacy that a second round of voting was supposed to confer.

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When I argued at the J Street Conference that J Street couldn't simultaneously appeal to people with Walt/Mearsheimer-esque views on Israel and a significant chunk of the American Jewish population, one of the names I cited as an example of the former was Phillip "The U.S. Without Israel is Like A Fish Without A Bicycle" Weiss, who writes for the Nation.

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After a weekend of furious activity, Democratic leaders in the Senate think they are close to getting the votes they need in order to pass an "opt-out" version of the public option. But they feel like President Obama could be doing more to help them, with one senior staffer telling TNR on Sunday that the leadership would like, but has yet to receive, a clear "signal" of support for their effort. The White House, for its part, says President Obama supports a strong public option, as he always has--and that, as one senior administration official puts it, the president will support the Senate le

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Writing and Velocity

Sorry I’ve been silent (again) for so long. In addition to teaching two writing seminars at Penn, I’ve been busy with book revisions. Those are now done, so I should be back (again) to more regular blogging. Given the glacial pace of my contributions to TNR in recent months, perhaps it makes sense that I’d return with a post about . . . the pace of writing.

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Matters of Fact

Chris & Don: A Love Story (Zeitgeist) My Winnipeg (IFC) 19th Annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival   In 1964 Christopher Isherwood published A Single Man, a novel about a homosexual man and his state of spirit after his lover dies. Now comes Chris & Don, a documentary film about Isherwood's lover and his state of spirit since Chris's death. The subtitle of the film is "A Love Story." The picture makes the worn term fresh, moving. The principal place is the couple's home in Santa Monica, where Don Bachardy still lives.

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The Restless Medium

Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before By Michael Fried (Yale University Press, 409 pp., $55) I. Michael Fried,who shot to intellectual stardom in 1967 with an essay in Artforum called "Art and Objecthood," is an intimidating writer. He looks very closely. He has passionate feelings about what he sees. And he shapes his impressions into a theory that fits snugly with all the other theories he has ever had. Whatever his chosen subject--Diderot, Courbet, Manet, Kenneth Noland--he comes up with an interpretation that is as smoothly and tightly constructed as a stainless-steel box.

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After picking up my new copy of National Review (not yet available online), I noticed that the first book under review was 'We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism', by NR writer John Derbyshire. Unsurprisingly, the review--courtesy of New York Post film critic Kyle Smith--is a rave ("delightful", "wide ranging", and "gratifying").  Derbyshire is extremely politically incorrect, with beliefs that go well beyond the normal bounds of right-wing opinion on race.

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Short Cuts

Robert Altman: The Oral Biography By Mitchell Zuckoff (Knopf, 592 pp., $35) Here is your exam question: who is the last American movie director who made thirty-nine films but never won the Oscar for best director? Name the film by that director that cost the most money, and name the film of his that earned the most. Clue: The Departed, which must have been around Martin Scorsese’s thirtieth picture, and did win the directing Oscar, cost $90 million (four times as much as any of this man’s films cost)--so don’t go that way.

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Seize the Pen

For years, I have been reading Michael Greenberg's remarkable column in the Times Literary Supplement and wondering what the English make of it. The New York Jewish quality of Greenberg's take on the writer's life, under the rubric "Freelance," is emphasized by the way he takes turns writing the column with an English poet, Hugo Williams, who is a writer of a wholly different species.

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