The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis

The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis (Knopf, $26.95, 370 pp.)

By Richard von Busack

Some wiseacre (maybe it was the now-forgotten proto-McSweeneyite Jack Douglas?) once summed up the plot of Of Human Bondage as “a story about a guy with a clubfoot getting kicked around by a girl, when it seems like it would have made more [...]

Critics on Film

Do I remind you of Pauline Kael?

Not, mind you, critics talking about films (or TV) but representations of film critics in films.

I finally caught up with the (to me overwrought) two-part finale of Monk (on DVD, spared the endless commercials). One of the characters (played by Alona Tal) turns out to be a gorgeous [...]

John Updike, 1932–2009

IF YOU DON’T know John Updike, who passed away Tuesday, imagine Joe Biden for a minute to get a general idea of the writer. Like his fellow citizen of small-city eastern Pennsylvania, the late John Updike had a personable boyishness that lasted into old age and a fine and democratic sense of humor. In [...]

Where’s Michael J. Fox When You Need Him?

In an embarrassing moment this week, The New York Times had to fess up that it had been hoaxed by a letter writer pretending to be the mayor of Paris writing to the gray lady to complain about Caroline Kennedy. Since it just came out on DVD in a 20th-anniversary edition, I was immediately reminded [...]

Studs Terkel

Let’s presume that before he went, Studs Terkel had the satisfaction of knowing that a Chicagoan was very likely to be the next president. “The man on the street” interview is a kind of journalism that can get abused, and sometimes leads to the celebrity of a Joe the Plumber. Still, Terkel’s many books [...]

Yes on 44

(rinnnnnnnnnnnnng) Fraught robovoice: Proposition 44′s opponents claim that Proposition 44 isn’t even on the ballot. They claim Proposition 44 doesn’t even exist. They say Proposition 44 is nothing more than the ravings of a gibbering transient on a bus bench. But here’s the facts: Proposition 44 reduces earmarks on federally funded pork barrels, saving millions [...]

Bazooka Joe: The Movie

Proving that its eye is on the little, insignificant things, such as the waxy pieces of litter wrapping a piece of bubble gum, The Onion is never one to ignore the continuing saga of Bazooka Joe.  True, the comic has gone downhill, but the stunning surprise episode revealed in this week’s Onion is signalled by this [...]

Everything I know about life I learned from Seinfeld

            Again, Seinfeld comes through for those who need context and understanding of current events. A lot of the discussion around the financial meltdown concerns the massive risks that bankers and lenders took, and why they didn’t realize that those risks were getting out of hand.

            Sound familiar? Remember [...]

Gekko Echo

Contrary to the lesson some people took away from Oliver Stone‘s prescient 1987 Wall Street, greed is not good, and Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko was always the bad guy (although his speech actually does contain some useful finger pointing at corporate malfeasance). That should be clear now, amid the smoking wreckage of the financial system. [...]

Capra or Sturges in VP Race

Before I go into deep hibernation in my “Palin-News-Free” hyperbaric chamber, I can’t help but acknowledging this sinking feeling that the upcoming election will be utterly devoid of any actual substantive discussion of issues and policies while we all delight in our varying ideas of how “hot” Sarah Palin is. The whole thing is starting [...]