EarlyWord

News for Collection Development and Readers Advisory Librarians

Entertainment Weekly’s Crystal Ball

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After dozens of best books lists (the New York Times daily reviewers posted theirs today), Janus turns his head with the first preview of the new year, from Entertainment Weekly.

As much fun as the book section is, it will frustrate many librarians because it includes several fall titles that are not yet available for ordering. So, for now, you may have to go with blind catalog entries.

Purity, Jonathan Franzen, (Macmillan; FSG, Sept) — Says Entertainment Weekly, “Franzen’s novels never fail to elicit equal parts hype and hate. Purity promises to be a departure from his previous works The Corrections and Freedom.” So, does that mean it won’t inspire hype and hate? According to a NYT story last month, it’s due in September from Macmillan/FSG.

City on Fire, Garth Risk Hallberg, (RH/Knopf, Sept) — According to a 2013 story in New York magazine’s Vulture blog, this 900-page first novel sold to Knopf for almost $2 million and movie rights went to Scott Rudin. Way back then, they also offered a list of “28 things you can surmise about Garth Hallberg’s City on Fire by reading Garth Hallberg.”

M Train, Patti Smith, (HarpeCollins/Ecco; Fall)  — Smith mentioned she’s working on this follow-up memoir to Just Kids in a Rolling Stone interview in October, saying it was due on Friday. Giving that timing, we assume it will be released in the fall. She described it as not about the past, but “sort of in present tense. I wanted to write a contemporary book or just write whatever I felt like writing about, and it’s things going from literature to coffee to memories of Fred in Michigan.”

The Witches, Stacy Schiff, (Hachette/ Little, Brown; Fall, 2015) — According to Schiff’s Web site, this is about the Salem Witch trials. The publisher told EarlyWord that it will be on their fall 2015 list.

A couple of the titles have already shown up on librarian radars. You can catch up by reading them over the holidays, digital ARC’s are still available:

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The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins, (Penguin/Riverhead, Jan. 13)

This debut began drawing attention back in August and is a LibraryReads pick for January. This is one of three titles Entertainment Weekly considers a possible successor to Gone Girl, along with the “buzzy” The Kind Worth Killing, Peter Swanson, (HarperCollins/Morrow, Feb. 3) and “the most understated an plausible of the three,” The Daylight Marriage, Heidi Pitlor, (Workman/Algonquin, May).

My Sunshine Away, M.O. Walsh, (Penguin/Putnam. Feb. 10)

Entertainment Weekly says this debut is “sure to be a breakout.” Librarians who have read it in galley concur, calling it, “a roller coaster of a read that doesn’t let up until the very end of the ride.” Join us for a chat with the author on January 21, as part of Penguin’s First Flight program.

For a full listing of the titles, go to our Edelweiss Collection.

Gifts for Very Young Kids You Don’t Know Very Well

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It’s that time of year when many of us are looking for just the right present for kids that we don’t see all that often, and books are a natural choice. As the nieces and nephews and godchildren gather around the tree or finish lighting the menorah, it’s great to offer each one an alternative to the inevitable pile of gadgets and software, and as the saying goes, a book really is a present you can open again and again.

But with the number of titles available, how do you choose? Not a day goes by after Black Friday that I don’t get five or six emails saying something like this:

I’d love some ideas for 5 grandsons, ranging in age from three to twelve. The ten-year-old loves to read, but the twelve-year-old only loves sports. Last year’s suggestions were very well liked!!

When you’re faced with such a plea, a little reconnaissance pays off big. How old is each recipient? Do you have a clue about likes and dislikes — particularly any subjects, toys, or themes that add up to an obsession? Even a small amount of information, will help you achieve the goal of getting a smile when the gift is unwrapped.

To aid you in your mission, I’m offering my picks from the thousands of children’s books published this year, sorted by age group, with notes to help you spot just the right book for that young reader, attempting to answer the question that plagues adult gift givers with children in their lives: “How do I buy a book for a gift for a kid I don’t know very well?”

We’ll divide this into sections.  Below, selections for the very young. In the following posts, I’ll suggest titles for early elementary and older kids.

This is more art than science, so I may have overlooked some of your favorites. Please mention them in the comments section.

For Families With A New Baby Or Toddler

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No Two Alike, Keith Baker, (Little Simon, Board Book)

Particularly appropriate for families with new twins, but it works for others as well.  Baker’s art and ear for language is pitch perfect for young children and their parents. In the book, we observe a pair of red birds making their way in the snow-covered world.

Moo!, David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka, (Bloomsbury, Board Book)

This was a read aloud delight when it arrived as a picture book in 2013. There never was a more expressive story told with just one sound — “Moo.” Now available in a board book edition we can share our enthusiasm with the pre-reading set

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Honk, Honk! Baa, Baa!,  Petr Horacek, (Candlewick)

This heavy stock board book has a comforting familiarity with Horacek’s mixed media illustrations of common farm animals and the noises they emit. As we turn the die cut pages they form a black and white bovine surprise on the last spread (if you’re having trouble imagining that, watch a kid discover it for himself in this video).

Also from Horacek is Las Fresas son Rojas, (Candlewick)

This is a new Spanish language edition of Strawberries are Red a cornucopia of fruit and colors with a die cut surprise at the end.

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Pat-a-Cake and All Fall Down, Mary Brigid Barrett, illus. by LeUyen Pham, (Candlewick Press)

The familiar nursery rhymes are stretched and expanded in these delightfully silly rhyming romps. Have you ever patted a pickle cold and bumpy? A fuzzy caterpillar? Did your recitation of “Ring around the Rosie” include “potatoes in a mound, plopping green peas all around”?

For Families With Preschoolers Ages 2 To 5

This is the age when kids start to get reading ready. It important for them to explore colors, numbers, and shapes as well as concepts like up and down and in and out through pages of a book. The following will bring surprise and wonder from that most jaded of readers, the parent, who often has to read them again and again.

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Countablock, Christopher Franceschelli, ills. by Peskimo, Abrams 16.95

From the team that brought us Alphablock (Abrams, 2013), this is a brick of a book weighing in at almost 1 ½ pounds of counting fun. We count from 1 to 10 as 6 balls of yarn become 6 sweaters and 7 pots of paint become seven colors of the rainbow in bold graphics that include an oversized depiction of the number then we count by 10s to read a double page spread of 100 puzzle pieces (see more interior photos here).

Circle Square Moose, Kelly Bingham,  illus, by Paul Zelinsky, (Greenwillow Books)

The creators, Z is for Moose broke down the structure and predictability of the alphabet book. Shapes are the feature of this reprise of the adventures of Moose whose enthusiasm for the subject matter exceeds his social skills. See below for

 

9789888240852_2afc8Number Circus: 1-10 and Back Again!,  Květa Pacovská (minedition, Dist. by IPG)

This playful, tactile volume with embossing, die-cuts, and interactive lift-the-flaps is an artistic volume that nods to the influences of modern masters such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Joan Miró.

 

For Families Sick of Reading the
Same Bedtime Books Over and Over

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Thank You, Octopus,  Darren Farrell, (Penguin/Dial)

Absurdist humor seems to be a winner this year and I would give the prize to this one. The familiar structure of the children’s games “Fortunately/ Unfortunately” and “That’s Bad/ No That’s Good” are used here as a knitted cap-wearing Octopus offers what at first seems a to be typical bedtime rituals of a warm bath, bringing a “Thank you, Octopus!” But, wait, that bath is made of egg salad. “Gross! No, thank you, Octopus!” This holds up to repeated readings, as we explore the ship where the boy and the octopus reside.

Small Blue and the Deep Dark Night,  Jon Davis, (HMH)

Small Blue is white bunny. Small Blue is imagining scary creatures like gremlins and goblins when the lights are turned off at night. The grownup in the house is Big Brown, an enormous bear. Big Brown suggest imagining something fun not scary in the dark like delightful doggies riding unicycles. The bunny’s bedroom when lit is a cozy space of glowing yellow strewn with toys and books contrasting with the deep blues where the fantasy beings appear in the dark. Sure to become a favorite.

Gifts for Early Elementary School Kids You Don’t Know Very Well

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Continuing my series of suggestions for gifts that are sure to bring smiles, below are titles for early elementary kids.

Picture Books, Ages 5 and up

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Bad Bye, Good Bye, Deborah Underwood, illus. by Jonathan Bean (HMH)

Underwood, whose Quiet Book won the Geisel Award for beginning readers, has made me see books for emergent readers in a new way. One of my favorite picture books of the year, this just happens to have easy-to-read limited rhyming text. The ink and color pencil illustrations eloquently depict a child’s unhappiness about his family’s moving to a new home and his discovery that the new place has its compensations. Not to be missed.

Pardon Me, Daniel Miyares, (Simon and Schuster)

Here is the book for the kids who couldn’t get enough of Jon Classon’s I Want My Hat Back. Parrot is content to be alone on his small island when first a heron joins him with a polite “Pardon me.” As more animals join him, the more visibly annoyed he becomes. The twist ending will delight listeners while teachers will be thinking of ways to lead a discussion on inference. A keeper.

9781419705182_7bac8100 things that make me Happy, Amy Schwartz. (Abrams)

Amy Schwartz in my mind is one of the overlooked geniuses of children’s books today. She quietly produces perfect books without fanfare that reflect the everyday lives of children with a subtle subversive flair. Her Bea and Mr. Jones was selected for the first Reading Rainbow list and is as fresh and funny today as it was the year it was published, 1982 (give yourself a treat with this flashback to the great Madeline Khan reading it on the show) and there is not a better book about friendship for kindergartners than her 2001 book, The Boys Team.

That said, in her newest creation, Schwarts presents rhyming pairs of word phrases — curly hair…teddy bear, mermaid…lemonade. This is an illustrated catalog, a counting book, an easy reader, as well as delicious word play. The rhythm of the words and page turns slows down and speeds up as we follow a diverse population of children and their adults displaying the author’s favorite things from the simple “polka dots…forget-me-nots” to the sublime “city lights…starry nights” Families will be inspired to move off the page and observe their own world and list the 100 things that make them happiest.

A New Baby In The Family

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The Baby Tree, Sophie Blackall, (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen)

For those who already own Robie Harris’s Its Not The Stork, this is the next perfect book for explaining where babies come from. The narrator receives bits of information from various sources — his babysitter, his grandfather, his teacher, and the mail carrier — but until his mom explains the biological information in plain language, none of it makes much sense.

Gifts for Beginning Readers You Don’t Know Very Well

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Continuing my series of suggestions for sure-fire gifts, below are titles for kids who are starting to read on their own, plus a couple of suggestions for family readalouds.

For those who like their easy-to-read books in a traditional format there are some new books with favorite characters:

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Drop it Rocket!, Tad Hills, (PRH/Schwartz and Wade)

Rocket (of the best selling Rocket Learns to Read) is back in what may be the first book a child reads to herself. With very few words on the page, the pictures give clues to the words and most importantly there is a good story. This kind of book is very hard to find. More please.

Waiting Is Not Easy, Mo Williams. (Disney/Hyperion)

Although this is another in the Elephant and Piggie series, it is not just another series book. Librarians sometimes joke that the ALA’s easy-to-read award, The Geisel, should just be given to Mo Willems every year. It’s hard to argue with that. Yet I have to say, as familiar as we are with Willems’s work, this one is amazing and surprising. To say any more would raise spoilers, so ,just trust me on this.

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Ling & Ting: Twice as Silly, Grace Lin, (Hachette/ Little Brown)

Introduce your newly fluent early chapter book readers, the ones who are speeding through Henry and Mudge, to the silly sisters, Ling and Ting. Lin’s comic timing is exquisite in these six short chapters that capture the young girls’ imaginative adventures.

Cock-a-Doodle Oops!,  Lori Degman, illus.  by Deborah Zemke, (Creston, Dist. by Perseus/PGW)

Rhythm, rhyme and repetition combine in this absurdist barnyard tale of a rooster who goes on vacation and delegates his wake up duties to the other animals. This sleeper is a winner.

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Ballerina Dreams: from Orphan to Dancer, Machaela and Elaine DePrince,  illus. by Frank Morrison. (Random House)

The autobiography of an orphan from Sierra Leone, who, encouraged by her adoptive American family, became a ballerina, this is for the kids who are reading independently and want a real story. Also available now for ages 12 and up is Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina (RH/Knopf)

The Whale Who Won Hearts: And More True Stories Of Adventures With Animals, Brian Skerry, (National Geographic)

In this short chapter autobiography we follow Brian Skerry, a National Geographic photojournalist specializing in marine wildlife and underwater environments. For a taste of his amazing photos (and his journalistic drive), take a look at this National Geographic video. For even more, see his TED presentation.

Family Read Alouds

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The family with younger children, around 4 to 6, who have enjoyed Kate DiCamillo’s six Mercy Watson books, will want her new early chapter book Leroy Ninker Saddles Up (Candlewick), set in the same world and a hoot.

Shannon Hale, the Newbery Honor winning author of The Princess Academy (also a great read aloud) presents The Princess in Black, (Candlewick),  a grand adventure about a proper pinkish princess who has a secret life battling big blue monsters and rescuing goat herding boys.

Hold Alert: John Cleese’s
SO, ANYWAY

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Actor John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air this Tuesday, which may have sparked demand for his new memoir, So, Anyway (Random House/Crown Archetype; OverDrive Sample). The interview includes several  clips of Cleese’s performances (Cleese judges an early one as “distinctly uninspired”). Unfortunately, the planned audio version of the book is now listed as “postponed indefinitely.”

Holds are up across the country with some libraries showing hold ratios over 10 to 1.

Advance attention to Cleese’s memoir might have been buried under the recent flurry of celebrity comedian accounts including:

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler (Harper Collins/Dey Street Books; Harper Audio, Oct. 28)

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography (Random House/Crown; RH Audio, Oct 14)

I Must Say by Martin Short (Harper Collins, Nov 4)

Even This I Get to Experience by Norman Lear (Penguin; Penguin Audio, Oct 14)

Brief Encounters by Dick Cavett (Macmillan/Holt; Macmillan Audio, Oct. 28)

The new biography of Bob Hope, Hope: Entertainer of the Century by Richard Zoglin (Simon & Schuster; Brilliance Audio, Nov. 4th)

Colbert’s Final Guest

9781594204999_a7f67Appropriately, since he has  featured so authors on his show,  now that The Colbert Report is ending, Stephen Colbert’s final guest was the winner of National Book Award in fiction, Phil Klay (The Report‘s  final episode  is actually tonight, but it does not feature a human guest).

Klay’s book Redeployment, (Penguin Press; Penguin Audio; Thorndike, OverDrive Sample) is a series of short stories about serving in Iraq. He chose to portray the war through fiction, he told Colbert,  because it made him feel less constrainted than nonfiction would have, “I don’t think I could be, in a weird way, as truthful as I wanted to be in trying to chase down the experiences I was trying to articulate on the page.” To that, the master of “Truthiness” lit up and deadpanned, “You can be more truthful by making things up?”

‘Tis the Movie Season

The arrival of the holidays coincides with the end-of-the-year cut-off for Oscar qualification. As a result, movie releases shift into a higher gear in the upcoming weeks, beginning with the wide release tonight of the final Hobbit movie, expected to bring in $75 million by Sunday.

But there’s no surer sign of the arrival of a big movie than an SNL sketch:

In fact, this holiday is so crowded that the Weinstein company ended up changing the release date of their big kid’s movie, Paddington, to January 16. Little did they know that one of the major Christmas releases, The Interview, would end up being cancelled by most major theater chains (reminder: 25 years ago, independent bookstores stood up to threats against selling Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses)

Below are the book-related movies scheduled through the end of the year (for all upcoming movies based on books, check our listing. For tie-ins, check our catalog on Edelweiss).

12/19 — Annie

This live action movie is based on the musical, which in turn is based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strips by Harold Gray, it stars the youngest-ever Oscar nominee, Quvenzhané Wallis, as Annie and Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks (a new version of Daddy Warbucks) with Cameron Diaz chewing up the scenery as a conniving Miss Hannigan.  See the trailer here

Scholastic has the tie-ins:

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Annie: The Junior Novel (Movie Tie-In), Lexi Ryals

Annie: A True Family (Movie Tie-In), Calliope Glass

12/25  — American Sniper

9780062376336_4cf40After an Oscar-qualifying limited release on Christmas Day, this opens across the country on Jan 16. Originally a Steven Spielberg film, Clint Eastwood is the director. It stars Bradley Cooper and  Sienna Miller. Trailer

Jesse Ventura is helping keep the book in the news by suing over its mention of him (it seems the movie doesn’t include that scene).

Tie-in:

American Sniper [Movie Tie-in Edition], Chris Kyle, (HarperCollins/Morrow)

12/25 — Unbroken

With Angel9780812987119_d630aina Jolie as director, this has already received major advance attention (she’s already appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote it). Trailer

Tie-in:

Unbroken (Movie Tie-in Edition)Laura Hillenbrand, (Random House)

Meet Mr Norrell

The following brief clip from the BBC series based on Susanna Clarke’s 2004 best selling debut novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, can’t be accused of giving away too much, but it does give a sense of Eddie Marsan’s portrayal of Norrell.

No news on when the series will debut in the U.S., but the tie-in (Macmillan/Bloomsbury USA) is now showing a May release date, indicating it’s not expected until later in 2015.

FRESH OFF THE BOAT Series Premiere

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ABC’s new comedy Fresh Off the Boat will premiere on Wednesday, Feb. 4  before moving to its regular timeslot on Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. ET.

Based on restaurateur and food show host Eddie Huang’s memoir of his childhood, Fresh Off the Boat, (RH/Spiegel & Grau; RH Audio; BOT), this will be the first Asian American family sitcom since Margaret Cho’s All American Girl.

The show stars Hudson Yang as the young Huang with Randall Park and Constance Wu as his parents. The show’s producer, the actual Eddie Huang, will do the voiceover narration.

The trailer for the show’s pilot, below:

THE SLAP TV Series To Debut

NBC’s 8-part adaptation of the controversial award-winning novel, The Slap by Australian Christos Tsiolkas, (Penguin, 2010)  has been scheduled to begin airing on Feb. 12

The SlapStarring Uma Thurman (shown in some recent photos from the Brooklyn set), it is directed by Lisa Cholodenko, (HBO’s Olive Kitteridge and the movie The Kids are All Right).

About the repercussions of a man slapping an obnoxious four-year-old boy at a barbecue, the book was a hit in both Australia and the U.K., where it became a reading group staple. It was made into a popular Australian TV series in 2011 (as a result, some reports cite the new adaptation as a remake of that series, without noting the original source material).

Released in the U.S. as an original trade paperback, it  received a strong endorsement from the Washington Post. The reviewer praised it for giving American readers a sense of life in Australia, while exploring subjects that resonate here,

In The Slap we live for a few short weeks in suburban Australia, learning the language, becoming intimate with the characters and experiencing their customs. But finally the novel transcends both suburban Melbourne and the Australian continent, leaving us exhausted but gasping with admiration.

Norman Bridwell Dies

The creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog, Norman Bridwell, died on Friday. He was 86 years old.

Scholastic published the first  Clifford book in 1963. The series became so important to the company that Scholastic adopted the dog as its official mascot.

In a statement released yesterday, Dick Robinson,  CEO, of Scholastic, paid tribute to the author, saying, “Norman Bridwell’s books about Clifford, childhood’s most loveable dog, could only have been written by a gentle man with a great sense of humor.”

In 2012, Scholastic celebrated Clifford’s 50th anniversary and released a video interview with Bridwell:

A live-action, animated 3D movie, Clifford the Big Red Dog is scheduled for release on April 8th, 2016.

The next book in the series will be published in April.

9780545823357_474aeClifford Goes to Kindergarten
Norman Bridwell
Scholastic: April 28, 2015
Ages 3 to 5, Grades P to K
Paperback
$3.99 USD

YA GalleyChat, Tuesday, Dec. 16

Join us for the next YA GalleyChat, Tuesday, Jan. 20,  5 to 6 p.m. (4:30 for virtual cocktails) — #ewyagc


The BFG Finds His Sophie

9780374304690Get ready for a resurgence of the popularity of the name Ruby. Steven Spielberg has just announced that 10-year-old British actress Ruby Barnhill will star in his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1982 children’s book, The BFG, (Macmillan/FSG YR).

In a statement, Spielberg gives the young actress high praise, “After a lengthy search, I feel Roald Dahl himself would have found Ruby every bit as marvelous as we do.” She will play a young girl named Sophie who befriends a giant, played by Mark Rylance.

Disney plans to release the film on July 1, 2016.

Meanwhile, BBC One has completed another Dahl adaptation,  a TV movie based on Esio Trot, starring Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman. It is scheduled to air in the U.K. on New Years Day. U.S. rights have been acquired by the Weinstein Co., but the U.S. release date has not been announced.

A Not-So-Different
Folio Prize Longlist

FolioLogoThe UK’s Folio Prize, now in its second year, announced its longlist and it certainly lives up to its name, with a field of 80 fiction titles selected by the Folio Prize Academy, a group of writers and critics whose members read like a who’s who of literary fiction super stars.

The Prize was created in response to the 2011 Man Booker Prize shortlist, considered by some in the UK book scene as more “readable” than “literary.” Here is the entire 2011 Man Booker Prize list (long, short, and winner), in case you want to speculate on which titles triggered the debate.

Given the fuss, the Folio Prize longlist is remarkably similar to this year’s Booker longlist and includes the winner, Richard Flanagan’s
The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Also included are many of the titles that appeared on this year’s National Book Awards fiction longlist, but not the winner, Redeployment by Phil Klay.

The Folio shortlist will be announced on Feb. 9 and the winner on March 23, 2015. Last year’s winner was George Saunders for Tenth of December.

Yardley: Favorites from
A Lifetime of Reading

Yardley, Critic

Many are assessing their favorite books of the year right now, but imagine summing up your favorites from an entire lifetime?

Jonathan Yardley, long-time Washington Post book critic takes on that task in his final, farewell column before retiring.

Only one of the total of 30 titles was published this year, Ward Just’s American Romantic (HMG), which Yardley counts as “perhaps his best, though the competition is fierce” (he also lists Just’s 1990 novel, The Congressman Who Loved Flaubert).

In nonfiction, one author gets three mentions, Rick Atkinson for his “magisterial World War II trilogy,” An Army at Dawn, (Macmillan/Holt, 2002), The Day of Battle, (Macmillan/Holt, 2007) and The Guns at Last Light (Macmillan/Holt, 2013),

In a separate column, Yardley looks back on his career with the Washington Post.(many of you will recognize the headshot, above, that once ran above his column), and resolves to “make one last attempt to read Ulysses, the gargantuan novel by James Joyce that was admitted to this country by my great-great uncle, federal Judge John Woolsey, whose famous opinion authorizing its admission I regard as considerably more engaging, witty and intelligible than the novel itself.”

A critic to the end!