Interview by Kam Williams

Actress and author Brooke Shields is a familiar face within the entertainment industry. Starting her career at just 11 months, Shields went on to star in Pretty Baby (1978), The Blue Lagoon (1980), and Endless Love (1981). She also caused a sensation with her advertising campaign for Calvin Klein. Shields attended Princeton University in 1983, graduating in 1988. Following college, Shields played the title role in Suddenly Susan and appeared on Seinfeld. She has just published her latest memoir There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me, written after the death of her mother, Teri Shields, in 2012. In it, Shields honestly examines her remarkable and often difficult relationship with her mother. Her previous memoir, Down Came the Rain, was a New York Times Bestseller. more

By Stuart Mitchner

I grew up eating breakfast and lunch (and snacks) in the same room as a large three-part folding screen decorated from top to bottom with New Yorker covers. It was the only piece of furniture my parents owned that had no discernible purpose other than to be its own odd, cheery, colorful self. My Medievalist father, who was accustomed to working with illuminated manuscripts, had meticulously assembled and arranged it, making sure everything was precisely aligned. The screen, with all its vivid, amusing imagery reflecting our familial infatuation with New York City was a companiable presence at a time when my diet consisted mostly of open-faced peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, then and now the ultimate comfort food. more

How Jewish-Americans Forged The American Songbook via Broadway and Tin Pan Alley

By Linda Arntzenius

Illustrations by Jorge Naranjo

“You won’t succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews,” Eric Idle’s clever quip from Monty Python’s Spamalot never fails to elicit laughter from a Broadway audience. It’s long been taken for granted that the Broadway Musical is a particularly Jewish success story. Idle’s observation was expressed decades earlier by none other than Cole Porter, the exemplar of Broadway song composers. Porter, who was not Jewish, was once asked how he would go about writing “American” music. “I’ll write good Jewish tunes,” he said. more

By Stuart Mitchner

“Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.” – Henri Matisse

In my dissheveled outsider’s view, the fashion world is best approached when it relates to art or cinema or literature, or, as I’ve just learned, when it’s embodied by designers who live up to Matisse’s definition of creative people. After scanning some new fashion-oriented publications appropriate to the holiday season, I’ve found the virtues of curiosity, persistance, independence, a spirit of adventure and a love of play in people like fashion legend Loulou de la Falaise (1948-2011) and Alber Elbaz, the creative director of Lanvin. more

By Stuart Mitchner 

Joyce Carol Oates had been living in Princeton for 25 years when she published The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art (Ecco 2003), one of two works she named when asked to mention books that were “close to her heart.” The author, who will be teaching her last class at Princeton University in the spring semester of 2015, also cited High Lonesome: New & Selected Stories 1966-2006 (Ecco 2006), which contains “my favorite stories of my own up to that time.”

New work published this month includes Lovely, Dark, Deep (Ecco), a collection of short fiction, and Prison Noir (Akashic), the second book she’s edited, after New Jersey Noir, for Akashic’s Noir Series. The Sacrifice, a novel due early in 2015, is set in a “racially troubled” New Jersey city in the late 1980s; she is also working on a memoir to be published in fall 2015. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Every time the “back to school” theme comes up, I think of The Catcher in the Rye, New York City, and the year I went to McBurney School on 63rd Street off Central Park West. I was 16 when I read Holden Caulfield’s story for the first of many times, not knowing that J.D. Salinger had been at McBurney decades before me and that some of Holden’s school experiences and relationships were drawn from his two years there.  more

By Linda Arntzenius

How often have you heard that the printed book is an outdated medium destined to go the way of the dinosaur? Over. Passé. Being usurped by digital media. Well, not exactly.

According to a recent Bowker report, the number of books being published has exploded in recent years. The reason? Self-publishing. And the new Espresso Book Machine is the latest technology to hit the book world. more

By Ilene Dube

When Roman Polanski needed a building in which to set the satanic cults and witchcraft of the 1968 film Rosemary’s Baby, he chose the Dakota, at the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West. With its profusion of Gothic dormers and high gables, terracotta spandrels and balconies, it suggested hidden passageways to the occult. more

By Judith Zinis

Who needs another film festival?” film producer Jane Rosenthal asked herself in 2001 when she and Robert de Niro were considering a film festival in their neighborhood of Tribeca. One year later, they launched the Tribeca Film Festival. The festival was created to support and develop Tribeca after the devastation of 9/11 described in 2001 as a “ghost town” by the New York Times. According to Martin Scorsese, one of the festival’s early supporters, the festival was developed in four months. Twelve years later, it draws thousands of filmgoers and offers a broad category of films and events as well as an opportunity to explore the neighborhood. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Now is the time of year when an allegedly endangered species called The Book comes enormously into its own, making those
handy, battery-dependent little doodads called Nooks and Kindles look like sophisticated playthings. What a difference, to unwrap and open and hold in your hands the weighty reality of a big, handsomely/beautifully/lavishly illustrated volume you can feel the substance and texture of, something, say it again, to be held in both hands. It lends the gift a kind of majesty, like an offering placed on the altar of the occasion. more

By Linda Arntzenius

There is a tiny store in New York’s Upper East Side with the name of “Tender Buttons.” The name alludes to a work by Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), a writer who has fascinated me since I first heard a 1934 recording of her reading her poetry. The title of Stein’s experimental book Tender Buttons, published in 1914, was all that was known to me of the book until last summer. I had never seen a copy until I stopped in at the Shakespeare & Company bookshop on a visit to Paris and discovered a new edition, published just this year, with illustrations by the San Francisco artist Lisa Congdon. more