…two collections of non-fiction by Renata Adler, “Canaries in the Mineshaft” (2001) and “After the Tall Timber” (2015), which is a career-spanning retrospective. I have now read seven of her eight books, omitting a collection of her film criticism from the year she spent doing that for the NY Times.
Boy, is Adler something! I admire the clarity and power of her thinking, analyses and arguments, her courage, humor and quality of her prose. Sometimes she may be vague (or beyond the limits of my comprehension). Sometime she may weld herself to positions that have not been supported by subsequent evaluations or others over time or commit herself to causes that have failed to endure. But I can not fault her guts or style in propounding her beliefs.
Adler reports from civil rights marches across the South, from Biafra during its war of secession. from Israel during its fate-in-the-balance Six Days. She can be take-no-prisoners scathing, as she is toward Robert Bork, Pauline Kael, Kenneth Starr, the Rehnquist Supreme Court, and the Times and New Yorker, burning bridges to those with whom she had formerly worked. She can also be surprisingly kind to G. Gordon Liddy.
I ought to write about her.