Fittingly, one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's final performances is in a movie about role-playing. The masterly actor mutters and growls his way through A Most Wanted Man as a spy who's simultaneously fighting two losing wars: against the West's enemies as well as his own putative allies.
Further deepening the movie's ambiguity, the American actor plays a German in a story whose payoff is pungently anti-American.
Joshua Wolf Shenk doesn't believe in the myth of the lone genius. "What has one person ever done alone?" he asks NPR's Robert Siegel. "We think of Martin Luther King and Sigmund Freud and Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs as these great solo creators, but in fact, if you look into the details of their life, they are enmeshed in relationships all the way through."
The voice came from over my shoulder, a shouted greeting in a room crowded with journalists, publicists, network executives, producers and stars.
I tuned to see David Boreanaz, star of the Fox TV show Bones, calling out to me like a long-lost friend. I knew he had mistaken me for someone else — in a party held by Fox at the exclusive Soho House club, where everyone from Kelsey Grammer to David Tennant was sipping cocktails and talking shop, it wasn't hard to make that kind of mistake.
How do you know when a book has hooked you? When it really gets you in the guts and won't let go?
When you can't stop telling people about it. When you catch yourself inserting the title of the book into conversations where it has no place, breathlessly insisting to all your friends and relations that they need to read this book right now, and waving it around on elevators and hoping that someone asks you about it.
There's a wonderful 1982 memoir called An Orphan in History by the late Village Voice writer Paul Cowan. It's about Cowan's search for his European Jewish roots, and in it he says something about the sacrifices of older generations of immigrants that's always stayed with me. Cowan says: "Millions of immigrant families . . . left the economically and culturally confining Old World towns where they were raised, and paid for the freedom and prosperity this country offered with their pasts."