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The mist of other songs

Today at Critics at Large, my review of Nicholas Jennings's Lightfoot, concerning the balladeer who maintained just the right emotional distance.

Wicked and bristling with dots

My review of David Thomson’s Television: A Biography, concerning the medium described by Norman Mailer as “a small and modest malignancy, wicked and bristling with dots.”

The mystery of genius

My review of Mary V. Dearborn's Ernest Hemingway: A Biography, concerning perhaps the greatest American writer of the 20th century.

Great men, great nations

The Austrian Film Museum in Vienna just commenced a Henry Fonda retrospective, which will run through mid-October. Among the 25 Fonda films in the series are all of his best ones, plus a few TV shows – including the 1976 episode of Maude in which Bea Arthur nominates Hank for President. The program notes catch our man’s charisma and contradictions pretty keenly, with a few references to yours truly along the way. The notes also subtly suggest why a Fonda retrospective might be particularly tonic and meaningful at this historical pass. I began The Man Who Saw a Ghost: The Life and Work of Henry Fonda a few years after 9/11, when America was deep into the second term of George W. Bush, and it


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