Jerry Stahl

  • High and Low

    Ruben Castaneda may be the nicest crack addict in the history of the drug. His worst transgression seems to be missing his brother’s wedding-rehearsal dinner: He couldn’t tear himself away from his pipe and the strawberry (as a young woman who traded sex for rock was known, back in the proverbial day). He also, in the grips of his disease, began to call people near and far saying he’d lost his wallet, and showed up for work disheveled and reeking of booze.

    It’s that work that makes the story Castaneda tells so compelling. At the height of the DC crack epidemic, the author was a crime reporter

  • It’s a Living

    One of my favorite moments in Cubed, Nikil Saval’s lush, funny, and unexpectedly fascinating history of the workplace, comes in a chapter called “The Birth of the Office,” in which the author describes the insane yet rampant “efficiency” craze that began to sweep the nation in 1900. One of its outgrowths was a periodical called System, subtitled A Monthly Magazine for the Man of Affairs. “Each volume,” Saval writes, “had articles proposing new models for the minutiae of office life, whether a new system of filing or a more efficient mode of envelope licking.” (In 1929, the magazine changed to

  • Reflections


    Adapting a work of fiction can have its disappointments for a director. Presumably, when you set out to turn a favorite novel into a film, it’s mostly because of the wonderful scenes that you look forward to shooting; taken all together, they are the reason for making the film in the first place. Once committed to the project, you duly transfer the scenes to the screenplay, and in pleasurable anticipation, you round up the right actors. But, it turns out during shooting, despite all your enthusiasm and planning, you discover too late that you have not carefully thought through