"WHY didn't anyone lock her up?" snarls the protagonist of Caleb Crain's novel "Necessary Errors", on hearing that a friend, a talented poet, has committed suicide on her second attempt. Told that involuntary commitment is not always so easy, his anger turns towards public policy: "It should be."
Like many people, I reacted to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman by heroin overdose with a similar sense of unfocused outrage, as though we had just been insulted by the universe. Mr Hoffman was among the best of a generation of actors who over the past two decades have become so good, and have undertaken such challenging and surprising projects, that they seemed to be ripping open unconsidered elements of the human experience with each new film. From "Happiness" to "The Master", his characters were simultaneously self-hating and authoritative, sadistic and compassionate; he was a Generation-X Orson Welles, but with less ego and a...Continue reading