In Memoriam — Al Martinez: More Than a Life Well-Lived

His voice was deep; his soul was too. His humor made you rock with laughter; his insight rocked your world. I never got to squeeze Al Martinez’s hand or give him a hug, though I often wanted to. We lived six hours apart, but when we talked by phone, Al, who died Jan. 12, was in my living room, sitting next to my desk. We laughed at each other’s jokes and exchanged sometimes thoughtful, sometimes silly emails about the topics …

Roger Angell, 93, Receives Baseball Hall of Fame Award

The game he loves has honored the man many say is its finest chronicler. On July 26, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., presented the J.G. Taylor Spink Award to Roger Angell, for 50 years of writing about the national pastime. In The New Yorker magazine and in a number of books, Angell shared his passion for a sport he calls “the hardest game to play.” Speaking to the crowd after receiving his award, Angell was grateful: …

Maya Angelou: Memoirist, Poet and Much More

In 1969, at the age of 41, Maya Angelou, who died on May 28 at age 86 in Winston-Salem, N.C., published I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It was a memoir of her childhood and adolescent odyssey from Arkansas to California, during which she survived a cascade of traumatic events, including being raped by her mother’s boyfriend at age seven and overcoming prejudice to become, at age 16, San Francisco’s first black streetcar conductor. It was the first autobiography by an …

Joe McGinniss: The Journalist As ‘Psychological Detective’

Some writers are myth-makers. Joe McGinniss, who died on March 10 at age 71 in Worchester, Mass., was the opposite. Whether McGinniss was writing about the repackaging of Richard Nixon in The Selling of the President 1968 or Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald in the 1983 book Fatal Vision, McGinness liked to get up close and personal with a subject, gradually peel away a carefully crafted public persona like the leaves of an artichoke. In doing so, he usually became part of the story …

He Taught Hollywood How to Write Screenplays

Syd Field was one of the most famous names in Hollywood screenwriting – even though, by his own account, the only movie script of his ever produced was an obscure Argentine film, Los Banditos. “I never saw the film,” he once explained. “But it was a pretty good script, as I remember.” Field, who died on Nov. 17 at age 77 in Beverly Hills, became famous by analyzing the art of screenwriting and then giving other writers tips on how to …

Bridget Jones Is 51: Older, But Any Wiser?

Bridget Jones, our favorite bumbling thirty something singleton is back, though now she’s 51 and a widowed mother of two.  Helen Fielding’s third Bridget novel, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, is out tomorrow, 17 years after the first, Bridget Jones’s Diary, became the chick-lit blockbuster of 1996.  Back then Bridget was preoccupied with finding a boyfriend, losing weight, quitting smoking and hopelessly striving to develop “inner poise,” in the way of Tina Brown (“though not, obviously, quite so hardworking” she wrote in her …