Every word of Janet Malcolm’s latest nonfiction collection, “Nobody’s Looking at You,” is a pleasure to read, even if you have no built-in interest in her topics. The author of “The Journalist and the Murderer” comes off like a proponent of the “Life is short, eat dessert first” philosophy, placing her snappiest pieces in the first section.
They’re five New Yorker profiles that show off Malcolm’s way with quick, vivid word pictures (“she is tall and elegant and could be taken for a college president” in a story about three sisters who own a bookstore) and her gift for the telling detail, like everyone at Eileen Fisher’s clothing company being required to wear Eileen Fisher clothes.
The second section contains reported essays, for the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, that are highlighted by “The Art of Testifying,” a quick history of what Supreme Court candidates admit — or don’t — to their Senate questioners.
The essays in the final collection, all about books, reveal the breadth of Malcolm’s wit and insight, ranging from a pair of pieces about “Anna Karenina” to an affectionate ode to Alexander McCall Smith’s No. Ladies’ Detective Agency novels.
Nobody's Looking at You
By: Janet Malcolm.
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 289 pages, $27.