On the appeal of true crime.
You're killing me, Internet Movie Database.

Title of the year.

I haven't read all of it yet, but I was predisposed to love this book because of its title: How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken. (I love its cover, too.)

Broken It's a book of critical reviews and writings by Daniel Mendelsohn, who is evidently a longtime contributor to publications like the New York Review of Books. I'd never actually heard of him; I literally requested this book from the library because the title stood out. But I'm glad I got it. When it's done well, I find that critical reviewing and writing can be really enjoyable to read (Anthony Lane and Lee Siegel are two of my favorite such writers), and can lead to lots of other pleasurable reading (and watching, in the case of movie reviews). In this collection there's reviews of the books The Lovely Bones, The Hours, and Middlesex; there's also movie reviews of 300, Kill Bill Volume 1, and Brokeback Mountain.

But let's get back to that title. Mendelsohn explains it thus: "'How beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken' is a quote from the state directions to a play by Tennesse Williams, a great American drama about the victimization of a fragile girl who is tragically in love with beautiful, breakable things: the famous glass menagerie that gives the play its title, and which of course provides a richly useful symbol for the themes of delicacy and brittleness, of the lovely illusions that can give purpose to our lives and the hard necessities that can shatter them...

But to my mind Williams's haunting phrase illuminates not only the nature of certain works that have preoccupied me, but also something about the nature of the critics who judge those works. For (strange as it may sound to many people, who tend to think of critics as being motivated by the lower emotions: envy, disdain, contempt even) critics are, above all, people who are in love with beautiful things, and who worry that those things will get broken." (p. xvii.)

That is a good paragraph about being a critic, I think. And let's face it, I just love the phrase, even if it started life as a lowly stage direction. Do give it some thought today as you deal with your daily frustrations, and try to go easily on the world. After all, how beautiful it is, and how easily it can be broken.