Books: Stages of Development

Ghost Light sketches a family in trouble and a portrait of the theater critic as a young fan

For the actors and producers expertly impaled on Frank Rich's pen during his 1980-93 run as "the Butcher of Broadway" (a.k.a. the drama critic for the New York Times), there are, in his new memoir, a couple of bombshells: Rich has a heart, and that heart loves the theater passionately and needily. Ghost Light (Random House; 311 pages; $24.95) is really two memoirs. The first is about--surprise!--a troubled childhood. The second is a tender reminiscence of the American theater of the '50s and '60s. Where Ghost Light often excels is where the two meet: the critic's evolving personal relationship with the...

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