CULTURE

The Fading Light

Stewart O’Nan’s novel “West of Sunset,” based on the final tragic years of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood, took some nerve to write. Would you like to get into the ring with one of the greatest figures in American literature and try to describe what’s going on in his alcoholic…

Cooking the books

For me, it started with “The Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls.” My sister-​in-​law loaned me her copy when I was 7. The 1950s spiral-​bound edition depicted smiling, neatly dressed girls in aprons stirring batter and beating eggs in (now vintage) bowls with the boy in the background tasting…

Pitaland

If breaking bread is the key to world peace, Joe Chahine has a jump on it at Pitaland in Brookline. A Lebanese Maronite Christian, Joe has pita customers of all faiths and nationalities. An Italian baker, Cellone, delivers Joe’s pita to area groceries. And if you are eating pita at…

From melons to motorists

Why exactly does motor square Garden have a dome? The Renaissance-​style cap in oxidized copper and glass sits confidently on a low-​rise multiple gable structure in buff brick that is more ancient Roman. Pittsburgh Press writer George Swetnam once called the combination “odd but charming.” The building definitely holds its…

Richard Mellon Scaife

When Dick Scaife died last summer, there surfaced a rash of brief memoirs of a man most often described as “reclusive,” and, more ambivalently, “mercurial.” Before then, he had been shielded from close scrutiny by the code of Omertà, a protective silence, at least by his friends and close associates.…

The road back

by John Allison
Jennifer Matesa, a writer living in Friendship, was a well-​dressed, middle-​class junkie. She didn’t score from shady dealers in back alleys, though. Her supplier was the pharmaceutical industry. Starting about 10 years ago, this self-​described “white soccer mom” got hooked on pain-​killers after seeking legitimate treatment for chronic pain. Vulnerable…

Bon bouquet

As last year’s polar vortex blew in its snow dumps and sub-​zero temps, I huddled inside by the wood-​burning stove. When the spring thaw came and I ventured out into the crispy, frosted mornings, I was reminded that nothing is forever.

Korea Garden

Seok Kun Han was born in the mountains of South Korea as the Korean War recovery had begun. It was a time of great hardship, and his family suffered as much as any. In those tough times, it was great luck to get hired as a delivery boy for a…

Robert Qualters: When Retrospection Gets Personal

As we get older, as age begins to play tricks with our memories, as our surroundings change and the immediately familiar becomes obliterated, we come to rely on simple strategies like keeping a photograph album or simply hanging on to significant things.

A lens on life

1. An old woman is seated in an upright armchair in a sparely furnished room.

Apocalypse Pittsburgh

Pittsburghers have long boasted that, in the heat of the Cold War, our role as an industrial power made us the Russians’ No. 1 nuclear target. It was a counterweight to our role as a national punchline for being a sooty dump.

Fall rising

An epiphany moment comes when a person bakes bread, waiting forever for its puffy belly to inch up above the bowl. Waiting and waiting until the time comes when it has doubled itself and the baker takes a light fist to its risen center, pushes, and the bread exhales all…

The Enduring Dollar

They don’t call it the lion’s share for nothing. Those sculpted felines at Dollar Bank’s Fourth Avenue building have grabbed the limelight. A crowd attended their unveiling last year, with substantial press coverage, because master carver Nicholas Fairplay had both restored the original lions, which were placed inside the Dollar…

Rudy’s Bar and Grill

His real name is Frank, but most people call him Gus, except for those who call him Rudy, and a lot of folks call him Rudy. For 40 years, Frank Aiello has operated Rudy’s Bar and Grill in McKees Rocks.

Bend of the ‘burgh

Pittsburgh has enjoyed some nice national media buzz in recent years. We’re so livable, we’re hipper than Portland, we’re the next foodie destination. But Pittsburgher Jacob Bacharach’s debut novel could blast the city’s profile into an otherworldly dimension. “The Bend of the World” — a highly enjoyable comedy of modern manners — imagines our…
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