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For a herring seller and former attorney, Mark Russ Federman isn’t a bad writer.And now the retired operator of the venerated “Russ & Daughters” deli on the Lower East Side of Manhattan will visit the Jewish Community Center Book & Arts Fair on Sunday for some stories and some schmoozing.Like the famous Russ & Daughters smoked salmon, which…

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She’s been anointed a princess by the contemporary literary establishment – tattered though it is, like penurious but titled Britons who live off admission fees accrued by their historic homes.And then, she’s been set onto literary celebrity’s red carpet – in the United States admittedly a stardom on the low-end of the scale in terms of brightness, behind that of Honey Boo…

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“My mind’s not right” — so wrote the aristocratic, manic-depressive American poet Robert Lowell, a towering (in all senses – 6 feet 4 inches tall) figure in American letters, in his famous “Skunk Hour.” A Boston Brahmin with anger management issues and genes from Cotton Mather, Lowell won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award and was an avatar of the intensely persona…

Not liking "San Miguel" would be like kicking kittens. T.C. Boyle is one of contemporary American literature's big guns, and "San Miguel" is a heartfelt, meticulous novel imagining the lives of three brave women on one of the least-known and most picturesque parts of the continental United States, during one of American history's liveliest periods, from the 1880s to the en…

Hoyt Lake Swimmer(based on an article in The Buffalo News, 4/1 4/1 2)cars passing or walkers with dogs, or both:somebody saw & phoned, & then Air Onehovered & the black mitts of divers minedunder whitecaps of 43 degree April watertoo dirty for eyes because – man down,man in; "his arms ending at the elbows,"he left clothes & shoes & glasses in bent grass,in underwear …

It's a sight gag you've seen David Letterman, in balmier days, pull off a million times. He'll be doing some bit on his show with mock danger involved -- some experiment by kid scientists, say, or feeding an animal you wouldn't want crawling around your bedroom. And then, suddenly, with a blood-curdling shriek, he'll pull his hand back or pretend to hold some body pa…

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Ingrid Bergman refused to cap her teeth or pluck her eyebrows to satisfy studio heads, but when it came to her craft, she didn't hesitate to chop her hair to play Maria in "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Ava Gardner rebuffed requests to fill in a facial dimple with plastic surgery. Sophia Loren gave a firm "no" when she was told to get a nose job after her first screen test.…

You may not have read George Saunders' 2005 novella, "The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil," which was not as widely acclaimed as his two short-story collections, "Pastoralia" and "CivilWarLand in Bad Decline," both New York Times Notable Books. But the haunting and dryly hilarious opening sentence from "Phil" provides a glimpse of Saunders' eccentric genius and his …

SELECTED ESSAYS By JOHN BERGER PANTHEON 588 PAGES, $35 THE SHAPE OF A POCKET By JOHN BERGER PANTHEON 264 PAGES, $24 "When my father died recently," wrote John Berger in the 1972 essay "Drawn to That Moment," "I did several drawings of him in his coffin, drawings of his face and head." He then immediately tells us an anecdote about the listless life d…