Book critic John Leonard says that the collected letters of humorist S.J. Perelman reveal a surprising amount of vitriol directed toward a number of notable film and literary figures. But it's not all doom and gloom.
Singer and actor Kris Kristofferson. His hit songs "Me and Bobby McGee," and "Help Me Make it Through the Night," earned him acclaim as a country singer. His musical success led him to films, and he went on to act in westerns ("Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid"), comedies ("Semi-Tough"), and musicals ("A Star is Born"). In the past few years, he's appeared in the TV mini-series "Amerika" and "Blood and Orchids."
Book critic Stephen Schiff calls John Cheever, the subject of a new biography by Scott Donaldson, "the saddest man I ever met." The story of the author's life is brutal, told skillfully, but with prose that could't hope to match Cheever's.
Baker's new memoir, a sequel to his book Growing Up, chronicles his career as a reporter during his twenties and thirties. Book critic John Leonard says that the story, like Baker's New York Times columns, twists and turns to explore the fraught inner workings of journalism.
Writer Saul Bellow. His short stories and novels have won him three National Book Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and a Nobel Prize. His newest novel is "The Bellarosa Connection," a story about the meaning of memory.
Writer Russell Baker. Since 1962, Baker has written the twice-weekly "Observer" column for "The New York Times." For satire and parody on short notice, Baker has few equals in journalism. His 1982 memoir, "Growing Up," told of how his widowed mother guided Baker and his sister through the Depression with fervent exhortations about the value of hard work. "Growing Up" earned Baker the Pulitzer Prize and remained on the best-seller lists for a year. His second book of memoirs, titled "The Good Times," has just been published.