There's been an on-going discussion on The Internet Writing Workshop's Writing Discussion list -- and here on the IWW Blog -- about the possible demise of book reviews in newspapers.
Thus, I read with special interest yesterday a review in the New York Times. It wasn't a book review. It was a review of the career an actor, Lee Marvin, whose life-work is being exhibited at a film festival in that city.
I'm not a film buff, particularly, but, when I stumbled upon this essay, this review, I was intrigued at how succinctly yet colorfully the writer was able to character Marvin's work. It's beautifully written, I think. Layered. Referential. Honest.
Read this opening paragraph and you understand immediately Marvin's ability to play the bad guy.
"Lee Marvin moved across the screen like a shark coming in for the kill. Long and lean, with shoulders that looked as wide as his hips and hair as silver as a bullet, he seemed built for speed. He roamed across genres, excelling at gangsters and cowboys. Romance was not his thing. He could make you laugh, at times uneasily, but it’s his bad men that stick in your head. They are scary as hell, sometimes seductively so, because their every punch and twist of the knife seems delivered not in the heat of violence but in its chill."
Of course, we can always rely on the Good Gray Lady to offer sincere book reviews written by the intelligentsia about the works of the cognoscenti, such as this review of Christopher Hitchen's atheist manifesto by Michael Kinsley.
But I find a celebration of a common man with an uncommon talent more entertaining than the incestuous intellectual exercises of the erudite.