Sympathy for the Devil by Lorrie Moore

The ability on a camera-laden set to inhabit a character without a twitch of distraction or preoccupation or visible hint of the internally or externally irrelevant is a scary but brilliant feat.
Ordinary people cannot do it. But I have seen great actors do it even at cocktail receptions full of cell phones. In a world where major writers have announced that they cannot focus on their work without extracting or blocking the modems in their laptops, this kind of thespian concentration is worth noting. (One thinks of the writer Anne Lamott’s remark on her own maturing undistractibility: “I used to not be able to work if there were dishes in the sink,” she has said. “Then I had a child and now I can work if there is a corpse in the sink.”)

Sympathy for the Devil by Lorrie Moore

The New World of William Carlos Williams by Adam Kirsch | The New York Review of Books

In his Autobiography, Williams makes clear that part of what inspired him to become a writer was anger: “To write, like Shakespeare! and besides I wanted to tell people, to tell ‘em off, plenty. There would be a bitter pleasure in that, bitter because I instinctively knew no one much would listen.”

The New World of William Carlos Williams by Adam Kirsch | The New York Review of Books

The Mad Men Account by Daniel Mendelsohn | The New York Review of Books

Although I can’t vouch for anything beyond the second season, Mendelsohn’s critique seems fair. (via)

Worst of all—in a drama with aspirations to treating social and historical “issues”—the show is melodramatic rather than dramatic. By this I mean that it proceeds, for the most part, like a soap opera, serially (and often unbelievably) generating, and then resolving, successive personal crises (adulteries, abortions, premarital pregnancies, interracial affairs, alcoholism and drug addiction, etc.), rather than exploring, by means of believable conflicts between personality and situation, the contemporary social and cultural phenomena it regards with such fascination: sexism, misogyny, social hypocrisy, racism, the counterculture, and so forth.

A few years ago, I read a collection of Mendelsohn’s criticism, most of it anyway, and found it quite enjoyable.

The Mad Men Account by Daniel Mendelsohn | The New York Review of Books