Category Literature


May 2002 I don’t know how much longer I can afford to have friends. Last week, it was Dorothy, visiting from Ithaca, buying me a drink at Mirbeau, settling me into a brown leather sofa, and then softly saying, “Margarite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever […]

Having a Wonderful Time, Chapter 1

It seems silly now, but once I thought the novel was the ultimate goal for a writer, and that I should write one. It would take a long time, but if I kept after it day by day, I would eventually have a novel. But I would have to enjoy what I was doing. So […]

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

February 27, 2005 Where to begin with Hunter Thompson? At the beginning, I guess: Dan McNelly, a fraternity brother, handing me a copy of Hell’s Angels in 1967 and saying, “You’ve got to read this.” (Dan also gave me a copy of Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me by Richard Fariña; […]

Chris Zenowich

There are two kinds of writers in advertising: writers who learn by accident they can make a living there, and advertising people who love the business but can’t draw. I was the former, a writer who discovered that as a copywriter I could pay the bills. One day at Silverman Mower in Syracuse, N.Y., where […]

Mrs. Field

October 16, 2005 Seeing a few minutes of a baseball playoff game this past week brought Mrs. Field back to mind. Her son George was in my Cub Scout pack; I first met her while learning the ancient art of soap carving in their basement on Belmont Avenue. Mr. Field taught us Cubs how to […]

Joy Barlow

It is difficult to imagine life without Joy Barlow. In The Big Sleep (1946) she played the cabbie who gave Philip Marlowe a lift, and the exchange between Barlow and Humphrey Bogart is the stuff that dreams are made of. (She said, “Listen, if you ever need a ride again…” “Day or night?” “Night. I […]

My Desert Island Library

Updated April 20, 2012 These are the people that I, as a reader, watcher and listener, have come to treasure. I place them here in alphabetical order, because it would be too hard to rank them, and, after all, this is not a race. Plus, the alphabet provides some amusing pairings. Some writers are special […]

Polo, Yale and Flash Gordon

Yale graduates who have excelled at polo include J. Watson Webb; Winston Guest; Lewis E. Stoddard, chairman of the U. S. Polo Association (1922-1936); Tom Buchanan of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925); Flash Gordon of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon comic strip which began in 1934, and the movie serials with Buster Crabbe; William […]

Clues to the Meaning of Beer

To learn who made beer, and what they made, you can open any of a number of histories. But to find out what beer really meant to people, how it fit into a culture, it can be very helpful to turn to other areas. Literature, film and less overtly historical works can offer surprising clues […]

Boom Boom Mex Mex

The next time I get married, I’m registering at Boom Boom Mex Mex. Forget the china, the silver, the crystal; I want tacos. And maybe another t-shirt, because they have great t-shirts; I have seven. But I’m getting ahead of myself. A long, long time ago, Tom Bryan walked away from journalism and photography to […]