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"Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to 'Citizen Kane' by Patrick McGilligan; Harper (832 pages, $35) (Harper Collins)

New Book Details Orson Welles’ Rise to Fame

Sunday, November 29, 2015

One of Orson Welles’ more famous fiascos — and there were a few — is titled “It’s All True.” That title can never be applied to Welles himself. You’d be hard-pressed to find a figure in American arts around whom more stories swirl with varying degrees of truthfulness — in part fueled by the Kenosha, Wis., native’s own love of tale-telling. So in Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to ‘Citizen Kane’ film historian Patrick McGilligan takes a different approach: Trust (sort of), but verify. The result is a richly detailed, often nuanced study of Welles’ life and work from …

Author Revisits Salem in ‘The Witches’

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Stacy Schiff has read more Cotton Mather treatises than any modern soul should have to endure. The shocker is, she did so eagerly. “You know you’re a goner,” said the prizewinning nonfiction author, “when your idea of a great book is a Puritan sermon.” Schiff spent much of the past several years immersed in Colonial New England life during its most infamous period …

A Biography on Malcolm X’s Biographer

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Alex Haley was a working freelance writer, not an ideologue. Yet he wrote two of the 20th century’s chief texts of African-American consciousness: The Autobiography of Malcolm X and the saga Roots. The latter was adapted for a blockbuster TV miniseries watched by a reported 130 million viewers. In Alex Haley: And the …

Scout’s Adult Conscience

Saturday, July 18, 2015

When I was 12, in the 1970s, I went on a trip to Alabama, my first trip to the Deep South. The occasion was a visit to a well-to-do family, connected distantly through marriage, that had made their …

‘Watchman’ Reads Like A First Draft

Friday, July 17, 2015

Go Set a Watchman: A Novel by Harper Lee; Harper (278 pages, $27.99) It would be a mistake to read Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman as a sequel to her 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird. Yes, it takes place a generation after the earlier book, …

Lee’s ‘Watchman’ Hits Shelves

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman goes on sale this week — you may have heard — but the puzzle around the publication of the book isn’t clearing up anytime soon. The shocking revelation in the book is …

Book: Nixon Still Harms U.S.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The conventional wisdom among Nixon apologists is that the Watergate scandal has been overblown, that the crimes were those that had been committed by other presidents, too, and that Richard Nixon was a great man who did great …

Summer Readings Make Noise After the Fourth’s Fireworks

Friday, July 3, 2015

For bibliophiles who enjoy hearing authors and poets recite from their work in person instead of on tape (OK, iPod or CD), the options for summer reading series hereabouts come tantalizingly close to The Promised Land. How close? …

Karolina Waclawiak Writes Novels From the Outside

Friday, July 3, 2015

Karolina Waclawiak wants to talk about class. We’re sitting at Stark Bar on the campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It’s the end of the workday, and office workers and museum-goers alike are letting themselves …

The Woman Who Brought Yoga to the West

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Millions of Americans practice yoga as a workout, a spiritual exercise or a combination of the two. Those who wonder if their pigeon pose or sun salute carry centuries of Hindu tradition from India to their sleek modern …

Judd Apatow Digs Into His Past for Stories About a Funny Life

Friday, June 19, 2015

New York — The comedy education of Judd Apatow began with unusual access to great comic minds, which he pried for straightforward instruction: How do you tell a joke? Growing up on Long Island as a comedy nerd …

Little Known Tales of Bold Women

Sunday, June 14, 2015

In my fantasy version of summer, I am sitting on a beach, no schedule or deadlines, a pile of books at my side. There are lovely people for company, a pack of sandwiches and cold lemonade, and there is reading and swimming and more reading. Late in the …

A Comic’s Children’s Book

Sunday, June 14, 2015

New York — Jimmy Fallon spends his evenings as host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, having fits of laughter with Bradley Cooper, pretending to be a teenage girl whose favorite word is “Ew!” and coming up with hashtags, …