Mark Sarvas

  • syllabi May 11, 2009

    Literary Losers

    Long before reviewers tyrannically demanded sympathetic and likable protagonists, literature was reliably populated by leading men of a less bland stripe. It’s hard for me to understand why someone would want to spend their reading hours in the company of the virtuous, the accomplished, and the capable, when failure is so much more interesting—and, sadly, altogether more common. Today, we call them antiheroes (it’s more polite), but to me, they will always be literature’s losers—tormented, feckless, sometimes lovable, sometimes not, but almost always heartbreaking.

    Host of the literary

  • Crazy Guise

    Recently on NPR, Philip Seymour Hoffman gave an interview that was surprising in its awkward, fumbling banality. For example, on the difference between theater and film actors, he offered, “I’m sitting here and [theater actors are] doing it in front of me, but the only difference is that they’re doing it and I’m watching, but ultimately we’re all people hanging out in the same building.” Yet the taut intelligence of Hoffman’s performances can scarcely be gainsaid; like the work of many post-Strasberg stars, his oeuvre is a testament to an instinctive, emotional intelligence, which is not,