The new issue of The American Spectator has a column by Jonathan Aitken (former British cabinet minister and author of the one biography of President Nixon published in the post-presidential years that enjoyed RN’s full cooperation) discussing Frost/Nixon. It turns out that Aitken’s wife Elizabeth is an old friend of Frank Langella and that the actor, when preparing for Frost/Nixon’s initial incarnation as a play on London’s West End, conferred with the biographer in order to give his portrayal of the president additional accuracy and depth. Aitken, whose high regard for Langella’s performance was previously noted in TNN, offers further very illuminating insights into it in this column, which, at the moment, is only in the print version of TAS.
This week’s issue of The New Yorker is also of interest. It includes a review by the late John Updike of Blake Bailey’s long-awaited biography of John Cheever, whose byline appeared alongside Updike’s for nearly three decades in the magazine’s pages. It is as good as nearly any essay the author of the Rabbit tetralogy ever published; nothing in it gives the slightest indication that it would prove to be among his last writings.
The magazine also features an excerpt from the late David Foster Wallace’s last, unfinished novel, which is all about IRS agents in the Midwest – I kid you not, though somehow, coming from this writer, it makes sense. Be warned: though the long essay about Wallace’s tragic but heroic career by D.T. Max that accompanies it says that Wallace was seeking a more straightforward approach in this book, the excerpt is, in some passages, nearly as complex as much of his masterwork Infinite Jest. But it’s still worth examining.