Hear Some Dirt?
Speaking of Books
A culture critic talks about being talked about
Q: Hypocrisy does seem like
great fodder for gossip.
A: Yes. I’ve always thought it
unwise to come out publicly
for virtue. When someone has
extravagant pretensions, anyone
who looks behind those is likely
to find something else. When
gossip works to root out genuine
hypocrisy, it’s doing a good job.
Q: Has the Internet changed
the way we gossip?
A: It has democratized gossip in
a terrifying way. Gossip is much
rougher now. There’s dishier
stuff on the Internet than in print.
Q: And what about the old-fashioned kind—just you and
a friend, sharing juicy tidbits?
A: That will never die. Sometimes I find myself gossiping about
really dear friends—their erratic behavior, their idiosyncrasies, their nuttiness—and I half expect they’re doing
the same about me. I hope it’s not
mean, but it’s certainly unstoppable.
That’s because gossip is ultimately
about the most interesting thing in the
world: other people. —Wendy Smith
CABIN: TWO BROTHERS,
A DREAM, AND FIVE
ACRES IN MAINE
BY LOU URENECK
You’ve lost your marriage,
your job, and your mother—
now what? Ureneck, 61,
bought property in rural Stoneham, Maine,
and set out to rebuild his life by construct-
ing an off-the-grid cabin with his younger
brother, Paul. He traces their resurgent
bond—“fused” by painful past events—
and presents an array of colorful locals
who helped him complete his quest.
BROTHERS (& ME):
A MEMOIR OF
LOVING AND GIVING
BY DONNA BRI TT
A former Washington Post
columnist describes grow-
ing up black in the 1960s
and 1970s; coping with the traumatic
1977 shooting death (by police) of her
26-year-old older brother, Darrell; and
nearing midlife as a working mother. The
result is this moving memoir-in-essays.
Q: Your new book, Gossip,follows
your earlier Envy(2006) and Snob-
bery(2003). What’s up with that?
A: I do seem to be a chronicler of
weaknesses, don’t I? They’re wonderful subjects; I’m surprised more
writers haven’t done them. As for
gossip, it’s about getting beneath
appearances. And what a tantalizing
mix! Gossip can be vicious but
charming, mean but entertaining.
Q: What’s the best kind of gossip?
A: A well-made piece of gossip has
narrative skill. When my friend Hilton
Kramer was art critic at The New York
Times—like having a friend in the
Kremlin—he told these perfectly
wrought stories about journalistic
hypocrisies and rigged assignments.
It was like listening to Henry James.
BY STEPHEN KING
In a local diner, high
school English teacher
Jake Epping uncovers a
portal to the year 1958.
Haunted by the pros-
pects—“You can change history, Jake…
John Kennedy can live”—he travels back
in time to try derailing JFK’s killing. In
King’s suspenseful update of a classic
sci-fi premise, the past is a dangerous
placethat stubbornly resists change.
Good Dog, Rinty!
Rin Tin Tin: The Life and The Legend BY SUSAN ORLEAN
Rescued as a puppy from a French battlefield by a lonely
U. S. doughboy, Rinty later appeared in 26 films, from
1922 to 1931, notably Rinty of the Desert and The Million
Dollar Collar. Seeking to understand how a German shepherd became an American icon of bravery and loyalty,
Orlean has produced a thoughtful and layered meditation on our undying need for heroes. —Christina Ianzito