DESCENDED FROM HORSE-THIEVES: WHO WAS BARBARA STANWYCK? My December Column at Bookslut

It would be inaccurate to call Victoria Wilson's nearly 1,000-page biography A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940 exhaustive. For one, it only covers the first thirty-three years of the actress's life, with fifty more to go. But more importantly, despite the repetitiveness, Wilson's take on Stanwyck's life and era is so commanding and delightful, …

HARDLY A FEMALE IN SIGHT: DAVID THOMSON’S THE BIG SCREEN My March Column at Bookslut

Midway through David Thomson's meandering and (self-) reflective history of world cinema, The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies and What They Did to Us, he discusses British director David Lean's classic film Brief Encounter, a "woman's film" about an adulterous affair. Thomson is mystified by the film's "tacit admission of women's tragic position, …