Cowherd, Hunter, Olesker between covers

November 12, 1995|By Michael Pakenham

"Last Call at the 7-Eleven: Fine Dining at 2 a.m., the Search for Spandex People and Other Reasons to Go On Living," by Kevin Cowherd. Bancroft Press. 234 pages. $19.95

"Violent Screen: A Critic's 13 Years on the Front Lines of Movie Mayhem," by Stephen Hunter. Bancroft Press. 305 pages. $19.95

"Michael Olesker's Baltimore: If You Live Here, You're Home," Johns Hopkins University Press. 221 pages. $22.95 These volumes, now coming on the market, contain much of the best of the work of three of The Sun's staff writers. It should be obvious without further elaboration that the editors of this newspaper believe that work to be of a high level of professional excellence. Why else publish the stuff?

Read individually, most of these essays are simply first-rate, enduring journalism. Taken together, they present a rich and nourishing portrait of a city and region and of a major contemporary art form as seen through Baltimore eyes.

In alphabetical order:

Mr. Cowherd's book contains 76 essays that originally appeared in the pages of this newspaper. His columns have been published here twice weekly since 1987.

The tone of the pieces is almost invariably funny. The subjects range widely, from dreary domesticity to the Deity, but are treated with almost universal irreverence.

Mr. Hunter's book is comprised of his reviews of 100 films that he cites as the most important made since he began as The Sun's regular film critic in 1982.

The arrangement and emphasis of the book focus on violence, in films and in contemporary society, but the sweep of titles and of subjects is virtually all-inclusive.

Mr. Hunter has published more than a half-dozen novels, including "Dirty White Boys," "Point of Impact" and "The Day Before Midnight." This is the first published collection of his criticism.

Mr. Olesker's book is a compilation of his columns in The Sun, reaching back to 1976, when he first joined this newspaper.

A Baltimorean since fleeing the Bronx at age 4, Mr. Olesker has been writing about and affectionately obsessed with Baltimore since he was in high school.

The columns are arranged, with brief introductory essays, under nine broad topics, among them "Characters," "Streets," "Politicos," "Sports," and "Absent Friends."

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