“Eisenhower’s doctor, Howard McCrum Snyder, knew better than anyone that the commander in chief paid a heavy physical toll for the blandness he projected in public — and once had a presidential golf club thrown at him.” Janet Maslin reviews a new book on the “hidden” President.
“The specter of the confessional haunts all first-person writing, and women’s writing in particular,” but perhaps “the instinct to insert [the self] comes from a place of saying, ‘I’m not an expert, I’m just a person; let me show you where I’m situated here in this thing I’m telling you about.'” Our own Lydia Kiesling writes about Meghan Daum, Lena Dunham, Leslie Jamison and the confessional impulse in nonfiction for Salon.
New this week are Mark Haddon’s The Red House, Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, John Lanchester’s Capital, and a collection of essays from Colm Tóibín, New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families. Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table is now out in paperback.
Peter Mendelsund writes for the Paris Review about how we see, or think we see, fictional characters. “Characters are ciphers. … We are ever reviewing and reconsidering our mental portraits of characters in novels: amending them, backtracking to check on them, updating them when new information arises.”
“When watching [Abbas] Kiarostami films, one also has a great sense of another kind of freedom not found in Hollywood movies, nor in most European art films: freedom from the creeping realization that a film we are watching was made by a cynical shit or a self-deluded megalomaniac.” Here’s something you don’t see every day — an essay that begins with an Independence Day showing of The Purge: Election Year, and somehow ends up at a poetic examination of Kiarostami’s artistic legacy.