My literary taste in fiction writers has run to Joseph Conrad, William Burroughs, Nelson Algren, Graham Greene, and John Le Carre. I have also loved reading Frank Harris, whose word portraits of artists and writers are too little known. But their books are not necessarily what I’ve been reading lately. As a former theater reviewer, I’ve lost my taste for theater. As a biographer of William Wyler, a great Hollywood director, I’ve been spoiled by his best movies. As a former film reviewer, I don’t know why most of today’s film critics bother. If I had to pick a daily movie reviewer to read over the long haul, it would be the late Roger Ebert because he was such a fluent writer — not because I agreed with him or liked his taste. Ditto for David Elliott, still very much alive, and the best wordsmith of the lot. Favorite literary critic? Clive James, though I don’t agree with his political views. Favorite television critic once upon a time? Same guy. Favorite music critic? Martin Bernheimer (now retired).
New U.S. Edition of The Z CollectionBlue Wind Press has published a new American edition of The Z Collection: Portraits & Sketches . It is on sale now at Amazon (where you can have a “Look Inside.”) There are eight 5-star reader reviews and — pardon me for saying — they are magnificent. Here’s one by G.N. Dishotsky: “If you come upon this book, seize it! Or better yet, give it to yourself as a gift. Jan Herman brings together an outstanding collection of pieces written over his years as a reporter, essayist and commentator. If you’re thinking this sounds like a lit class assignment, it’s not at all that, and you’ll be delighted by his style. He can capture foibles and mannerisms with a light touch and along the way you are given a tour of the important writers who created our view of the world. Start anywhere, and Herman will conduct you along the main streets and byways of how we all learned what the world is all about. Highly recommended!” G.N. Dishotsky is not my mother. Ok, she is a friend. Anyone who wants to buy a signed copy of the book is welcome to contact me.