Dressing for Dinner in the Naked City: And Other Tales from the Wall Street Journal's ""Middle Column""
Variously called A-heds or the middle column, the WSJ 's front page features are a quirky counterpoint to the financial news. Berentson, the column's editor since 1989, has collected a decade's worth of smart, funny, insightful writing on things most readers didn't think they wanted to know about: a library for unpublished books; Romanian baseball; fat rendering; the sex life of sea slugs; Yugoslav nudists. Most of the pieces are journalistic gimmes--expanded, well-written variations on kids/animals/Brits/lawyers say/do/buy/eat the darndest things. Some take more work like Ron Suskind's 1990 piece in which eight S & L experts examine George Bailey's banking practices in It's a Wonderful Life or Paul Carroll's participatory investigations of pro wrestling and a transatlantic sailing race. Charles McCoy's report on the fight to save the sea otters and Peter Waldman's story of a couple torn apart by the Persian Gulf war are touching but definitely in the minority in a collection that leaves the reader entertained and with a lifetime supply of amusing cocktail chatter. (June)