Sunday, November 26, 2017

Wall Street Journal Book section, 11/25-26

The WSJ's book section has been mentioned here before as often being worthwhile.  This weekend it overshadows the more weighty and influential New York Times Book Review section.  Sometimes it's simply more interesting, even if less well known reviewers with less space are involved.

This week there's a review of a book about Michel Curtiz, the "best film director that most people have never heard of."  A prolific director from the 1930's to 1950's, he seemingly would direct anything that came his way.  "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and "Casablanca" were two of his most notable films.  He was disliked by many and notorious for being difficult to work with, but he knew how to make films.  The review was informative broadly.

A review of a book about the life Lou Reed, "Lou Reed: A Life", takes the form of simply telling the story of his rise to fame, the influence of his college professor Delmore Schwarz, and the influence of beat generation writers and cool jazz musicians.  His move into the Warhol sphere and his crises of sexuality, family,  alcohol, and drugs speak to his early years as a lower east side rock presence with a cult following.  There's more.  It's unlikely that I will read the book, but the review told plenty.

There's also a review "The Bughouse", a biographical look at Ezra Pound's life and what led him to St. Elizabeth's,  the mental hospital in D.C.  The interactions and friendships of Pound's with T.S. Eliot, Robert Lowell, and many others are mentioned and apparently part of the book, and Pound's embrace of fascism is another major aspect of the story.  Whether this book is read or partially read here is uncertain, but the review made it seem interesting as a combination study of literature, history, and mental illness.  What a current combination?

The point is that the book reviews in the Wall Street Journal can be well done, and do not seem to reflect any of the bias found elsewhere in its pages.


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