Synopses & Reviews
On the first anniversary of her death, a deliciously far-ranging conversation about the movies and more with the most influential film critic of our time Pauline Kael.
Who else but Pauline Kael would have said: "It's not fun writing about bad movies. I used to think it was bad for my skin." On September 3, 2001, the movies and those who love them lost one of their greatest friends a friend who never tired of championing the best that the movies could offer and didn't shrink from taking to task any film, director, or actor she thought deserved a taste of her famously acerbic wit.
Kael's insight, spirit, and straight-shooting won her singular respect in both movie and literary circles, as well as a passionate following for her New Yorker columns and her inimitably titled books such as I Lost It at the Movies and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Shortly before her death, Kael sat down with Francis Davis for a series of conversations about her life and work and, of course, the movies. Among many, many things she talks here of her early days as a critic, her career at the New Yorker, the directors she knew (for better or worse), her disappointment with recent cinema, and her renewed interest in television.
It's funny, it's controversial, it's right-on-the-mark and time and again you realize that no could would have dared to say that, in just that way, except Pauline Kael.
"No one wrote about the movies with more vim, vinegar, and piercing intelligence than fearless New Yorker critic Kael....Davis pays lively tribute to his friend and mentor....Davis' vital give-and-take aptly celebrates Kael's acumen and effervescence." Donna Seaman, Booklist
"[B]rims with accuracy and authenticity....Kael's acerbic insights on a variety of topics come through here in this informal setting just as clearly and entertainingly as they did in her published reviews....Slight when regarded as a contribution to the critical dialogue, Afterglow is more like a little jewel box or keepsake that plays another chorus of Pauline's passionate song until the covers are closed once more." Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicle
"Not surprisingly, Afterglow is much more conversation than interview. This is both strength and weakness. There is the flow and ease...of good talk. There is also, however, the balance of good talk....Davis's considerable intelligence and cultural alertness notwithstanding, it's Kael we want to hear....[Her] presence makes Afterglow such a welcome reminder of so vital a career." Mark Feeney, The Boston Globe
"Afterglow means to be the final word on the great critic. But, sadly for Kael admirers, the less-than-100 pages devoted to the actual interview offer very little in the way of revelation about her lasting relevance. It's more a highlight reel than a close investigation of her career or legacy....Indeed, Afterglow as its title implies has the feel of a TV-series finale or a 20th-anniversary reunion concert." Tim Grierson, Knot Magazine
About the Author
Francis Davis is a contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly and writes regularly for the New York Times and The New Yorker. He is the author of Like Young and the forthcoming Francis Davis Reader, which Da Capo will publish in fall 2003. He lives in Philadelphia.