Sad news: literay critic John Leonard has passed away.
I read his Harper's column every month even when I didn't have any interest in the book he was reviewing because his writing was always lively and smart. For a taste of it, check out this review he wrote of Hatchet Jobs by Dale Peck, a collection of Peck's notoriously over-the-top negative reviews of fellow writers. At first, it seems to come off as a measured, hesitant, and perhaps even gentle rebuke of the young firebrand by the older, wiser writer: "You will notice that I mosey. Some of us, when we are about to be unpleasant, are bothered by the feeling that it's almost as hard to write a bad book as a good one and lots easier to write a slash-and-burn review." (Note his use of the word "unpleasant.") But he thoroughly—and I think quite fairly—takes Peck to task and administers a pretty spectacular smackdown.
I'll miss having the opportunity to read his work.
Ed Champion has put together a nice set of links in a post on his blog.