Thursday, December 18, 2014 Kislev 26, 5775
Whatever happened to other works from two great masters?
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SPEAKING VOLUMES The history of 20th-century literature is littered with famous writer's blocks. Two of the most documented and analyzed were suffered by a Jewish American, Henry Roth, and an African-American, Ralph Ellison. Both novelists wrote a single -- and singular -- work, and then seemingly fell silent. With Roth, the first work was Call It Sleep , which has...
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How the French got in step with the Nazis during World War II
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SPEAKING VOLUMES Until the release of Marcel Ophuls' four-hour documentary The Sorrow and the Pity in 1971, the conventional wisdom about France during World War II was that it may have been a country swiftly defeated by the Nazis, then brutally occupied, but no matter what, it never grew complaisant -- nor did it ever misunderstand its true mission under...
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Songwriter supplies his lyrics, plus thoughts on what swayed him melodically
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SPEAKING VOLUMES I have no objectivity when it comes to Finishing the Hat , Stephen Sondheim's collected lyrics covering the years 1954-1981, recently published by Alfred A. Knopf. How could I, when the musicals discussed in these pages, beginning with Gypsy , which I saw during its Philadelphia tryout in 1959, have made up some of the most memorable moments...
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Nat Hentoff dissects and praises the healing -- and unifying -- power of jazz
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SPEAKING VOLUMES In the introduction to At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene , published by University of California Press, Nat Hentoff, who worked for The Village Voice for decades before being rudely dismissed in 2008, described how as an 11-year-old, he heard some Artie Shaw music emanating from a Boston record shop and was changed...
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SPEAKING VOLUMES I recall sitting spellbound in the City Line Center movie theater one Saturday afternoon in the 1950s, watching as the final scene of the Tony Curtis biopic Houdini unfolded. If you know the film, you may recall that the bang-up finale depicts the last moments in the great magician's life: He's lowered, head first and tightly bound in...
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