Nobody Died in Today’s Paper

It’s the last day of summer, unofficially at least, and only now have I tackled enough of the shadows looming over me to relax. That’s life, I suppose, and as much as I don’t mind work—as much as I love work, even—I’m aware a change of pace would do me well. My patience is worn to the bone; I can scarcely suffer anyone, let alone fools; and I’ve become a Grim Jim, a Prince Charmless, a true Pill-ar of the community. Still, it’s nothing a break wouldn’t cure, and when I pay off all my debts and refill my bank account, I plan to take one—a good one, a long one, a very, very quiet and briny one.

In the meantime I travel within my finely feathered city, orchestrating the sort of adventures that have been the mainstay of my existence here since I was but a lass. Yesterday I wandered through the flea market on 76th and Columbus, a neighborhood that typically gives me nose bleeds. There, among the throng of normcore nudniks and old ladies in purple hats, I excavated an art deco pocket watch, a spangled parrot brooch, and a tiny painting of sea and sky whose beauty was obfuscated by a homely brown frame. This morning I painted it white and cream while watching an old screwball comedy. (And after you shot your husband, how did you feel? I felt hungry!) Grace supervised, her tail twitching in my face. The neighborhood pigeon with a neon stripe yapped outside the window. And the wind blew in, setting aflutter the curtains I hung myself.

Small pleasures, all of them, but no less real for their scale and certainly no less mine. And thus the Summer of Reckoning comes to a bittersweet end. Here’s to a brilliant Fall for us all.

‘The Notebook’: Brothers Grim, No Gosling

As a reviewer, it is my responsibility to judge a film on its own merits, even if I’m disinclined to its genre. I admit it, though: When faced with the prospect of yet another film about the Holocaust, it’s hard to suppress a groan. It’s not that I’m immune to the unspeakable horrors of that chapter in human history; if anything, as the descendant of Polish Jews, I’m especially sensitive to them. But sitting through films on the topic has become miserable, especially because, well, there are just so many of them. Fair or not, at this point I expect a Holocaust movie to shed new insight in order to legitimize its existence.… Read More

‘The Two Faces of January’ Are Skin-Deep

As much as it’s possible to write good-looking novels, Patricia Highsmith wrote good-looking novels. Cast against opulent European and American backdrops, many of them featured sly-eyed predators prowling the finest relics of Western Civilization: the finest autos, meals, wines, garments, jewels, music, and paintings – not to mention the finest fatted calves of old money. It’s not that Highsmith favored style over substance; it’s that the substance of her books was style itself, as well as how much larceny was committed in its good name.

Highsmith’s most famous sly-eyed predator, Ripley, hatched such elegant schemes that it was impossible not to root for him, though he had no loyalties of his own.… Read More