The Bonfire of the Vanities, A Man In Full & Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe. As you can see, I caught up with Wolfe's two novels this year and was delighted by both. From the Wall Street/New York world of Bonfires to the bucolic and urban Georgia setting of Full, Wolfe serves as tour guide sans égal of Americana. His characters are engaging, his plots interesting, his pacing impeccable. Without reservation I also recommend the Virginia gentleman's newest book of essays, where he is as comfortable talking about modern sculpture (Frederick Hart) as he is current teenage sexual mores. There is next to nothing I can add to the critical praise he's accumulated save the few gaudy bouquets I heave here.
Double Lives, Second Chances: The Cinema of Krzystzof Kieslowski by Annette Insdorf. Polish filmmaker Kieslowski's work was recognized in the West as a smattering when he released The Decalogue miniseries in 1988 and it had become a downpour by the time his magnum opus Colors trilogy was finishing up in 1994 (to critical and commercial success). Less than two years later, retired at his zenith, he died of cardiac arrest in a Warsaw hospital after heart surgery. Far from being a dispassionate writer Dr. Insdorf was a confidante of Kieslowski's and proves an able and absorbing guide to his relatively compact output. Her insight is also captured on the commentary tracks of the Colors trilogy DVDs, which I highly recommend.
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