eric herschthal

Does Franzen's "Freedom" Suck?

I do not know about you, but I've been riveted by the debates surrounding Jonathan Franzen's latest novel, "Freedom".  In the new issue of The Atlantic, B.R. Myers strikes a devasting blow against a book that has been otherwise roundly praised.

Woody Allen's "Tractatus Theologico-Politicus"

In case you missed it, The New York Times snagged a quick but worthy Q&A with Woody Allen today, a week before his new film comes out.  Allen told the Times' Dave Itzkoff that his film, titled "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" and featuring Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts and Anthony Hopkins, was his way of exploring the nature of belief. 

Stephen Greenblatt to Al Pacino's Shylock: Dead on Arrival

Despite the general approbation for this summer's Shakespeare in the Park staging of "The Merchant of Venice," the production was dealt a serious blow this week.  Stephen Greenblatt, America's leading Shakespeare scholar, wrote a scathing review of Al Pacino's performance in the New York Review of Books.

The Man Booker Question: "The Finkler Question"?

As a general rule, I don't cheerlead for people I've written about.  But I'll allow myself this: hats off, again, to Howard Jacobson, whose novel "The Finkler Question" was shortlisted today for the Man Booker Prize.  Jacobson, one of Britain's most respected and funniest writers, did an interview with me a couple of weeks ago.

The Man Booker Question: "The Finkler Question"?

As a general rule, I don't cheerlead for people I've written about.  But I'll allow myself this: hats off, again, to Howard Jacobson, whose novel "The Finkler Question" was shortlisted today for the Man Booker Prize.  Jacobson, one of Britain's most respected and funniest writers, did an interview with me a couple of weeks ago.

Kosher Couscous: Or, How Paris Got Its Jews Back

The publishing trend of telling history through food may be approaching its end. In any event, Mark Kurlansky pretty much has the genre cornered, telling history through oysters, cod and salt.

The Palestinian Mandelas

Reading this Economist review of "Budrus," a new documentary about a nascent Palestinian non-violent movement, which premiers in New York this October, reminded of Tom Friedman.  I'm usually a fan of Friedman's Middle East commentary; he's one of the few voices who's spent years reporting from region and gets both Israeli and Arab viewpoints pretty much right.  

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