New American Pilgrim

By Marilyn Johnson AARP July 28, 2006 If a mother or a teacher wrote a book about American history and everything you could learn driving around the country, it would bomb. Packed with goody-goody facts, it could never convey the right tone, never be cool. Did you...

The Coolest Gift

By Marilyn Johnson AARP December 8, 2006 It took me a while to figure out that to buy a book was to vote for it. I get it now: if I like a book or a writer, I speak with my wallet. I end up with some wonderful books, of course, but I also get to telegraph my values to...

Soul Mates

By Marilyn Johnson New York Woman September 1987 For all I know, people have been slipping out of this world in occupational clusters for years. Four journalists, I noticed, passed on one day last year, and their obituaries filled a whole corner of the newspaper. What...

Forever John Prine

By John Schulian The Stacks Reader April 8, 2020 When I heard that John Prine lay dying in a Nashville hospital, I couldn’t help wondering if he had found time beforehand to fill out his 2020 census questionnaire. It was hardly the kind of reverent thought the moment...

Dumb Broad at a Dumb Fight

By Shana Alexander Life June 4, 1965 Although until last week I had never personally attended a prize fight, I knew what I expected to see. The boxers’ glistening, circling bodies and the hoarse roar of the crowd had become familiar to me through years of exposure to...

Dylan Brings It Home: Memoir Is a Ballad to the Beat Village

By Ron Rosenbaum The New York Observer October 14, 2004 Thaddeus Stevens? Who knew? One of the least-understood of Dylan mysteries has to do with influences: His music seems to come from everywhere, and from nowhere but him. You can listen to endless droning folk...

The Seductions of MTV

By Helen Dudar The Wall Street Journal September 26, 1983 Most of my friends can be seduced by a tedium of journalists gnawing over the week’s news or by the exquisite boredom of Brideshead Revisited, but my television tastes run to junk. Family Feud, Entertainment...

Thriller of the Century: The Third Man

By Ron Rosenbaum The New York Observer January 17, 2000 Wait a minute, I’m not finished. I was just getting started. I’ve got more awards to bestow for Bests of the Century. I was just warming up last month when I named Pale Fire Best English Language Novel of the...

The Worst Pop Singer Ever

By Ron Rosenbaum Slate January 23, 2009 This may seem an odd moment to bring up the subject of Billy Joel. But the recent death of the painter Andrew Wyeth revived a long-standing debate over whether his art is respectable or merely sentimental schlock. (Say it: good...

Ex Drops In

By Paul Hemphill From Too Old to Cry San Francisco It is probable that Frederick Exley was the best-known unknown novelist working in America during the seventies. Ever since the publication in the late sixties of A Fan’s Notes he has symbolized the enigmatic position...

And Yet We Got On

By Ernie Pyle Scripps-Howard Wire Service June 12, 1944 NORMANDY BEACHHEAD—(by wireless)—Due to a last-minute alteration in the arrangements, I didn’t arrive on the beachhead until the morning after D-day, after our first wave of assault troops had hit the shore. By...

Farewell to a Gamer

By John Schulian The Stacks Reader 2019 Bill Buckner came to the big leagues as a headstrong kid who could outrun everything except self-doubt and hobbled out of the game under the longest shadow a simple ground ball ever cast. But it was between the poles of his...