The Old Man and the Mule

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader Here is a good story from Second Wind: Memoirs of an Opinonated Man by Bill Russell with the historian Taylor Branch (1979, Random House; currently out-of-print). It’s about Russell’s grandfather and his mule, Kate. Russell’s family was...

Remember the Rhythm

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader Dig this—from Whitney Balliett’s book American Musicians: Fifty-Six Portraits in Jazz: The Cape Cod pianist Marie Marcus came to New York from Boston to do a radio show in 1932, when she was eighteen. Her experience had been...

Down and Out in Fat City

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader “Sometimes you only get to win one championship.”—Leonard Gardner In 1969, Leonard Gardner’s novel Fat City was published. It a story about boxing and drinking in Stockton, California, about losers losing. “I have a strong sense of...

The Chinese Gourmet Club

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader Here’s something fun. From Kenneth Tynan’s lavish 1977 New Yorker profile of Mel Brooks (available online only to New Yorker subscribers though you can also find it in Tynan’s wonderful collection, Profiles): After separating from his...

Walter Matthau Was Addicted to Losing

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader A Siegel Film, Don Siegel’s account of his life as a film director is an entertaining and instructive guide to making movies. I especially like the section about Siegel’s experience working with Walter Matthau on Charley Varrick. For a...

A Letter to Nabokov

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader I thought you might appreciate this letter written by Nicolai Malko to Vladimir Nabokov. Here, let Malko’s son, George—a fantastic writer and an equally swell guy—explain: The letter was written when my father was in his fifth year as...

Bow Down

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader I’ve never read Conversations with Wilder, the hell is wrong with me? Man, I need to correct that. I’m  grateful that I tuned in to Alec Baldwin’s Here’s The Thing interview with Cameron Crowe, who put the book together, and has some...

The Gookie

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader The origins of “The Gookie,” from one of the great showbiz memoirs, Harpo Speaks! The man who first inspired me to become an actor was a guy called Gookie. Gookie had nothing to do with the theatre. He rolled cigars in the window of a...

What’s Old is New

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader Here is something I have noticed about reprinting material that was previously published but not available to us online—it ain’t for everyone. Why? Well, say I reprint a story that was published 40 years ago. Some folks will be turned...

Sugar Ray

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader Ray Robinson died last November at the age of 96. He was born and raised in New York, spent pretty much his whole life here and he died here. Ray wrote about sports and worked as an editor for magazines like Pageant, Good Housekeeping...

Hunting for Treasure (and Bringing ’Em to You)

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader Welcome to The Stacks Reader, an online trove of classic journalism and writing about the arts and culture that began innocently enough fifteen years ago in the microfilm room of the New York Public Library. I was there doing some...