There are novels that grip you despite inconsistencies of plot, failures of tone or characterization, lack of depth—you may not even like them, but you have to go on reading: their sheer force and urgency are irresistible. The Three Musketeers and Uncle Tom’s Cabin are not Middlemarch or Proust, but …
Mary Astor’s Purple Diary: The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936
by Edward Sorel
The Purple Diaries: Mary Astor and the Most Sensational Hollywood Scandal of the 1930s
by Joseph Egan
Lucile Vasconcellos Langhanke was born in 1906. “Mary Astor” was born in 1921—that was the name that went up in lights for the first time, at Manhattan’s Rivoli Theater, where, not yet sixteen, she was playing in a short film called The Beggar Maid. Soon her Madonna-like face was spotted …
Father to Daughter: The Family Letters of Maxwell Perkins
by Maxwell Perkins, edited by Louise Perkins King, Ruth King Porter, and Bertha Perkins Frothingham
The movie Genius, which recently came and went with predictable celerity, is an earnest attempt to track the relationship between Thomas Wolfe and his famous editor, Maxwell Perkins, by turning it into a high-flown literary bromance: boy meets man, soul meets soul, deeply needy young writer bonds with melancholic son-less …
by Dorothy Parker, edited by Colleen Breese, with an introduction by Regina Barreca
She struck a chord with the public: from the start, her voice spoke to a wide range of readers. Her generally sardonic, often angry, occasionally brutal view of men and women—of love and marriage, of cauterized despair—triggered recognition and perhaps even strengthened resolve. She told the truth as she perceived it, while using her wit and humor to hold at arm’s length the feelings that her personal experiences had unleashed in her.
Noriko, in Ozu’s Tokyo Story, is the quintessential Setsuko Hara character: she’s the archetype of the post-war, modern young woman. Yet she also embodies the virtues of the traditional Japanese woman: loyalty, self-sacrifice, suffering in silence; she’s the perfect daughter, wife, mother. She was utterly real, yet she represented an ideal…the ideal.
The new film version of Jane Eyre isn’t all bad, but it’s all wrong. The story, despite a confusing flashback structure, is coherent. The dialogue is satisfying. The look is convincing. What’s lacking is Jane Eyre itself—Charlotte Brontë’s feverish inner world of anguish and fury.
All bio-pix are by definition ridiculous since their subjects have to be manifestly unique people—why else would the movie be made?—while what makes them unique is exactly what’s so impossible to convey. (Creativity is invisible, hence unfilmable.)