Culture

Smart Reads: John Lahr, Mel Brooks, and Writerly Advice

Culture

Smart Reads: John Lahr, Mel Brooks, and Writerly Advice

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Today in culture: Mel Brooks, Petraeus, and “crisps.”

-Edith Wharton on the Petraeus scandal.

-“I figure I’m usually good for about a hundred and fifty [signatures]. After that, [it] begins to skew. I don’t know if I’m unconsciously angry at the process or what, but instead of “Mel Brooks,” I’m suddenly “Mel Gibson.”” Mel Brooks, everybody.

-David Mitchell on crisps (that’s chips to you.)

-“There was nothing really to be said for Mr. Karswell. Nobody knew what he did with himself…he had invented a new religion for himself, and practiced no one could tell what appalling rites…” M.R. James’ “Casting the Ruins”, illustrated by Edward Gorey.

-“I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself.” Philip Roth’s advice to a writer.

-The amazing John Lahr leaves off reviewing at the New Yorker. Lahr on lyricist Yip Harburg: “The theme of freedom–sexual, social, intellectual–runs through Harburg’s oeuvre and forms a kind of emotional signature to his work.” And elsewhere.

-“I think that we’re at a point in history where it’s not really as significant who makes what particular movies, it’s the constant flow. And like any flow of that kind, you say it’s like being carried down a river, and a lot of time perhaps you feel it’s on a sunny day and it’s very pleasant, but you can drown in a river. It seems that a lot of the culture, elements that I would hope to see maintained, are in danger of being drowned.” Greil Marcus interviews David Thompson.