Simon Callow is an English actor and director who has written about Orson Welles, Charles Dickens, Charles Laughton, and Oscar Wilde. His latest book is Being Wagner: The Story of the Most Provocative Composer Who Ever Lived. (June 2019)
Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales
by Oliver Sacks
Oliver Sacks found it impossible to work in the abstract; only when he went to work in a hospital as a neurologist, interacting with patients, did he begin to fulfill his potential. His natural shyness disappeared in the face of the problem to be solved—the human problem, the difficulty or the damage inflicted on the individual by his or her condition. But he was equally fascinated by the brain itself. By involving the patient as much as possible in his own insatiable inquisitiveness about its extraordinary ways, he took some of the doom, the curse, out of the condition.
The Luck of Friendship: The Letters of Tennessee Williams and James Laughlin
edited by Peggy L. Fox and Thomas Keith
The Luck of Friendship: The Letters of Tennessee Williams and James Laughlin (“Four Decades of One of the Most Unlikely Friendships in American Literature,” as Peggy L. Fox’s introduction splendidly puts it) is a most welcome addition, not simply because Williams was a world-class correspondent, but because it reveals an aspect of him that is rarely examined: his life as a working writer. Moreover, his epistolary partner, the publisher James Laughlin, was, in his very different way, also a titan—an unusually quiet one, to be sure, but unquestionably one of the central figures of American letters of the last century.
Various Irish notables have recently been put on trial in a sparky series of books published by the Royal Irish Academy under its Prism imprint: so far we have had Judging Dev, Judging Cosgrave, and Judging Redmond and Carson. Now it is George Bernard Shaw’s turn in the dock. He …
It is hard to find anyone under fifty who has the slightest idea who Paul Robeson is, or what he was, which is astonishing—as a singer, of course, and as an actor, his work is of the highest order. But his significance as an emblematic figure is even greater, crucial to an understanding of the American twentieth century.