As the critic Pauline Kael said, Robert Redford liked to make “how to” pictures: how to be a political candidate, a mountain man, a downhill skier. Smart, credible low-key films, free of Hollywood bluster and pretense. Captivated by Woodward and Bernstein’s Watergate articles in the Washington Post, he wanted to make how to be an investigative reporter, to bare the dogged reality, enshrine their relentless drive. Perhaps he wouldn’t even act in it.
Back when thick bricks of wood pulp were dropped on our doorstep, the highest praise for a movie star was “so powerful he could get the studio to make a picture from the telephone book.” If ever it applied to anyone, it was Robert Redford in 1974. But when he told the studios he wanted to make All the President’s Men, most of them said they’d rather film the phone book. It came down to Warner Bros.
I’m soon to move across the country, and surveying my bookcases—the three in the living room and the three in the bedroom, plus the unshelved piles that crop up from any flat surface—fills me with dread. The only cure, I’ve found, is to let my thoughts wander to another, even larger literary collection, a kind of underworld reflection of the one all around me. The books in this second collection are not all fiction, but they are all fictional. I’m imagining a place the late Umberto Eco might appreciate: the Borges Memorial Non-Lending Library of Imaginary Books.
When someone you love dies, their cookbooks and recipe collections can be a great comfort. Reading and recreating those recipes brings you into a communion that defies the finality of death. But what happens when you inherit the recipe box of someone you didn’t necessarily love, someone who often infuriated you?
“A bookmobile made so much sense, because food trucks work so well in this town,” Ms. Hayes said by telephone. “It’s a great way to get our name out there, too. It’s a rolling advertisement.”