Later this month, Talking About Pauline Kael will be released. Edited by Wayne Stengel, it features “critics, filmmakers, and scholars remember(ing) an icon.” I have an essay in the book, “Kael’s Influence: Expansive Subjectivity”, which Stengel said in his introduction is “one of the most charming essays in the collection”.
I’m in some pretty heady company, including Allen Barra, a sports columnist who also wrote a book about Wyatt Earp; Roy Blount, Jr., known to fans of Wait, Wait ... Don’t Tell Me; Will Brantley, who edited the excellent Conversations with Pauline Kael; David Denby of the New Yorker; Polly Frost, who has done a little of everything; Brian Kellow, author of a great biography of Kael; Ray Sawhill (see Polly Frost); Paul Schrader, who wrote many films including Taxi Driver and directed many more; Joan Tewksbury, who wrote the script for Nashville; and me, a retired ex-steelworker who, as my bio in the book explains, “once lived half a block from the building where Pauline Kael had run the Berkeley Cinema Guild.”
This is one of my better essays. Hopefully I did a good job of explaining what I meant by “expansive subjectivity” (as opposed to what Kael called “saphead objectivity”). It’s been awhile since I turned up in an academic book ... perhaps the context helps my writing, because some of my finest work has been for such books (thinking of my essay on punk cinema, and another about Picasso and Bugs Bunny). But I have to admit, the $80 list price is a bit of a shock. You can always check out the things I wrote for Smart Pop Books ... I’m in six of them, and you could probably buy them all for $80. (If you only get one, choose the Battlestar Galactica book.)