All parents of adolescents despair of them, particularly those with teenage daughters. Endless hours on the telephone, picky eating habits, emotional outbursts.
Naturally, the publishing of this book complete with its intrigue, loose morals, and the real citizens’ names thinly disguised, set the town on its ear.
A ghost is a spirit who won’t stay dead.
The emotional trauma exposed a vulnerability that lay beneath all outward signs of success: a career as film critic for New Yorker magazine, a resident of New York’s upper west side, and the father of two children.
Rock biographies, particularly of bands, are an odd subgenre. With an individual singer or instrumentalist, the narrative may take any of the traditional “hero” arcs (rags to riches, unappreciated innovator’s ultimate triumph, temptation/fall and — usually — redemption, etc.), but the story of a hydra-headed rock band must adopt a more amorphous approach.
Ginsberg writes in vivid fly-on-the-wall detail about the complex relationships she has with each of her sisters.
In this, her debut book, Harvard graduate Rachel Cohen weaves a literary tapestry encompassing the lives of 30 of America’s great writers, photographers and artists, into 36 distinct chapters. Part biography, part flight-of-fancy speculation, Cohen’s final product, complete with references, source material, and footnotes was 10 years in the making.
“I was honest about my own behavior and that of others, yet stopped short of revealing 95 percent of the worst in our business. The nature of memoir is that of truth; only real people can illustrate real stories. However, a measure of effective journalism is its ability to instigate societal change, and only a picture based on truth can do that.”
“The three were kidnapped at gunpoint at the American Atheist headquarters in Austin, Texas on a Sunday afternoon…They all thought they were going to live once the ransom money was delivered. It didn’t turn out that way.”
“In a brief biography, a writer needs to set himself a limited question. I chose this one: given Freud’s shortcomings as a scientist, many of them evident in his day, how did he achieve his enormous cultural impact?”
“The issue that animated his life and his thought was that of religious intolerance. The Jews who excommunicated him at the tender age of 23 had themselves been victims of a prolonged, horrific exercise in both religious (as well as racial) intolerance. Spinoza uses this history of suffering to reason his way into uncompromising universalism, an outlook that reduces all the contingencies of birth–our religion and race and, by extension, our nationality, gender, sexual orientation–to details of no significance whatsoever in the real process of self-fulfillment.”
“This means that we are a people who now live in that shadow world of quasi-existence. What matters to us is not necessarily what is real, but what is possible given the state of things. This is a big change, and constitutes a fundamental shift in the way we understand the world.”
Eric Ambler (1909-1998) was one of the foremost architects of espionage fiction as it exists today. Like his predecessor Somerset Maugham, Ambler sought to transform the genre from the verbal banality and minimal characterizations of authors William Le Queux and Edward Oppenheim to a more sophisticated, morally ambiguous world of deception and danger.
But, even more importantly, he also struck the first modern note in the evolution of the genre with respect to the degree of personal doubt and insecurity that over-shadows the mission – the same note, albeit greatly amplified, that is found in the novels of such well-known successors as Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, and John Le Carré, whose spy stories may be correctly seen, in part at least, as a continuance of John Buchan and the Hannay Quartet.
The last time I saw Johnny Cash was the first time I saw Johnny Cash – and he didn’t look good, but he sounded like home.