To The Beat

By Will Blythe The New York Times July 8, 2010 If you’re like me, you tend to regard plot summaries as a necessary boredom at best. They’re the flyover country between a reviewer’s landing strips of judgment, revealing almost nothing about the way a book actually...

I Was a Champion

By Floyd Patterson The American Weekly May 15, 1960 (as told to W.C. Heinz) For almost a whole year I’ve seen it day and night, maybe a thousand times. Me and Ingemar Johansson boxing and Johansson sticking out that left jab and me ducking under it, and then I’m down...

R.I.P. The Best American Sports Writing

By Kevin Koczwara The Stacks Reader February 2, 2020 The calm and quiet of upstate Vermont—past Burlington and Winooski, almost to the border of sleepy Canada, but before Montreal—is where Glenn Stout calls home. The world stops there. Or so it seems. The pace of life...

Adagio, ma non tropp

By Lewis H. Lapham Harper’s August 1995 “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening...

… The Joy of Boredom …

By Helen Dudar Newsweek May 1, 1978 I am a connoisseur of the boring, a secret indulgence that, over the years, has proved to be more sustaining than praise and less fattening than chocolate. If I choose to go public now, it is out of a sincere feeling that boredom is...

The Insanity Bit

By Seymour Krim From Views of a Nearsighted Cannoneer, 1961  Until this time of complete blast-off in seemingly every department of human life, the idea of insanity was thought of as the most dreadful thing that could happen to a person. Little was actually known...

The Attentive Eye

By Peter Goldman Introduction to The Attentive Eve May 2002 New York City For our forty-two years together, I have been assuring Helen Dudar that she ought to do a book. For forty-two years, she has assured me that she should not. My argument, reduced to its essence,...

Vietnam: How the War Became the Movie

By William Broyles Jr. Smart July–August 1990 I have been trading war stories with other Vietnam veterans for two decades. I almost never believe the stories they tell me, any more than you should believe mine. I don’t mean these stories aren’t true, just that they...

Agee Unfettered

By Will Blythe The New York Times June 15, 2008 On May 16, 1955, James Agee, 45, died of a heart attack in a New York City taxicab while on the way to his doctor’s office. Elegized by the critic Dwight Macdonald as a literary James Dean, he left behind an...

Hi-Diddely-Dee—The Writer’s Life for Me!

By Joe Flaherty The New York Times March 13, 1977 In an interview after winning the Nobel Prize, Saul Bellow contended that most people don’t pay any mind to writers, and his assessment struck me as correct. This fact was bulldozed home to me in 1969 when, as a...

Attitude Dancing

By Eve Babitz Smart July/August 1989 It used to be that if a place were the hippest and innest and most likely to attract major beauties and stars of our generation, like Helena’s when it opened three or four years ago, you couldn’t keep me out. I mean, I’d move...

Surrogate Family

By J. Anthony Lukas From Birth of a Fan 1993 When I was four years old, my mother took me to my first evening at the theater—The Bumblebee Prince, an operetta by Rimsky-Korsakov, based on a story by Pushkin. By all reports, I was utterly entranced and, when the...