Author: Geoffrey O’Brien

  • James Fenimore Cooper’s Brave Old World

    The Father of Us All James Fenimore Cooper, once the most familiar of American writers, has by now become very nearly the strangest. He is an ancestor just remote enough to be im­penetrable, the voice of an origin to which we no longer feel intimately linked. Only a generation separates him from Melville, but that […]

  • Dreaming America With the Hudson River School 

    How Green Was Their Valley The intoxication of the Hudson River School derives in part from the quantity of its output ­— a quantity amply indulged by the Met’s retrospective American Paradise and by the book that meticu­lously commemorates it. This is an art with no fear of exhausting its resources, no fear that there […]

  • Herman Melville’s Great Escape

    Born to Run From within his commemorative stamp­ — dyed an appropriate nautical blue — the un­likely hero figure of American literature gazes blankly out. Melville’s shrines and monuments accumulate relentlessly, as if in atonement for past neglect: he becomes a plaque in the Poets’ Corner of St. John the Divine, a three-volume set (all […]

  • MAD Magazine: Eclipsed by Madness?

    [ Editor’s note: Last year we told a coworker that the move to L.A. wouldn’t work — maybe the Dodgers and Giants could withstand relocation to that tainted lotus land that is California, but Mad magazine was just too much of a New Yorker to find harmony amid the perfected people. With the announcement that […]

  • Walter Kendrick, 1947 – 1998

    Walter Kendrick–who died Sunday morning with terrifying suddenness–was a great wit and a great scholar whose scholarship ranged freely over a staggering range of interests. His books include The Secret Museum, an indispensable survey of the history of pornography, The Thrill of Fear, an aphoristic meditation on “scary entertainment,” and Bloomsbury/Freud: The Letters of James […]