June 11, 2014 |
Growing up in Delaware County, Kevin Morris always knew he wanted to be an author. "That was my first passion," he says. He just got a little sidetracked for a few decades there, becoming one of the most successful entertainment lawyers in Los Angeles. Morris, 50, is perhaps best known for crafting a series of crazily advantageous deals that have made Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the South Park and Book of Mormon guys, into an economic engine that rivals the GDP of most Scandinavian countries.
November 24, 2012
By Junot Diaz Riverhead Books. 213 pp. $26.95 Reviewed by Martha Woodall In the words of the MacArthur Foundation, which recently awarded him a $500,000 "genius grant," Junot Diaz is "a fiction writer using vernacular dialogue and spare, unsentimental prose to draw readers into the various and distinct worlds that immigrants must straddle. " True enough. But those measured words fail to convey the dazzle, punch, sly wit, and subtle gravitas that this Dominican-born storyteller packs into his narratives.
October 20, 2012 |
You wouldn't know from a reading of Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination that his dead wife showed up on stilts to dance with him one night. You wouldn't suspect from the richness of his poetry and short stories that Poe and his family were starved for calories for much of their lives. And you wouldn't guess from the bitter obituary written by his literary executor and rival Rufus Griswold - who claimed that Poe "had few or no friends" and that few would grieve for him - that his reading public not only adored Poe, but would soon elevate him to the status of dark literary god. Nothing about Poe seems obvious: not the literary squabbles that cost him the support and admiration of people who could have furthered his career; not the scandals surrounding his flirtations with drugs, booze, and married women; not even the details of his mysterious death in a Baltimore hospital.
October 3, 2012 |
I WOULDN'T NORMALLY feel sorry for a man like Bernie Cohen. At 86, he's had a vibrant life. He's been married to the same sweetheart, Selma, for more than six decades and is a proud father and grandfather. Although he's long retired as a clinical psychologist, he's still a professor emeritus at West Chester University, where he taught for years. And he had a fine career in private practice and managed a bustling psychiatric clinic in Norristown. He may move a little slowly, but his wits are quick and his eyes crinkle when he delivers the punch line of a favorite joke.
July 17, 2012 |
Twenty years ago, when Dawn Sanders Jordan was 17, she slipped a note to her landlord as he arrived with the sheriff's deputies to evict her from the South Philadelphia apartment she shared with her mother. "Even though I never speak, I can talk," Dawn remembers writing. "I'm very intelligent. Will you help me?" Her mother suffered from schizophrenia. Dawn suffered from her mother. Talking to strangers was forbidden. Dawn says, "She was a hitter. " In the commotion, the landlord managed to lead the teenager down the fire escape and hide her in the first-floor Laundromat of the building at 15th and Wharton.
April 1, 2012 |
In-Flight Entertainment Stories By Helen Simpson Alfred A. Knopf. 176 pp. $24. If the prospect of short stories about everyday life makes your heart sink a little, in fear of too much precious observation, read Helen Simpson's stories. A simple act such as dropping the kids off at school is dissected and the layers of fear, ambivalence, even deceit that occupy the driver emerge. Is this what my life has come to, the driver might think. Or, Did I delete that incriminating e-mail before I left?
March 30, 2012
Harry Crews, 76, an author best known for his gritty tales of the rural South, died Wednesday in Gainesville, Fla. He had suffered from neuropathy, said his ex-wife, Sally Ellis Crews. Mr. Crews, author of 17 novels and numerous short stories, also taught graduate and undergraduate fiction-writing workshops at the University of Florida from 1968 until he retired in 1997. In a 1992 interview, he said about writing: "If you're gonna write, for God in heaven's sake, try to get naked.
February 26, 2012
Stay Awake Stories By Dan Chaon Ballantine. 254 pp. $25 Reviewed by Kevin Grauke There are not many fiction writers who can do what Dan Chaon can do. Many write both short stories and novels (by choice if not by necessity, since novels are in much greater demand, by both publishers and readers, than collections of stories). Because the forms are not so much siblings as they are distant cousins, few write both equally well.
December 8, 2011 |
The box of family heirlooms sat for six years in Susan Cadwalader Johnson's basement, untouched. Over the summer, her husband wanted to claim some space for exercise machines, so Johnson sifted through what she had been unable to face since her mother's death. The cardboard box's contents spanned five generations: the deed to the Arkansas farm, her great-great grandmother's flax apron, her grandmother's wedding dress, white, crinkly, and made of voile or organdy. "What am I going to do with all this?"
November 27, 2011 |
SEOUL, South Korea - There's the grown son bridging the distance with his alcoholic father, an old woman's girlhood memories of working in her grandfather's dumpling restaurant, a student's search for an inspiring former teacher. Like pages ripped from a diary, they are personal stories about love, loss, and just coping with everyday life in this crowded and stressful society. But these private thoughts are presented in a public place: The short tales, signed by their authors, are part of a new storytelling program on Seoul's Metropolitan Subway System.