One fall night in 1992, I was slumped at the cash register of an East Village bookstore, reading “The Journalist and the Murderer,” a chronicle of seduction and betrayal by Janet Malcolm, the peerless journalist who died Wednesday. The book, wisely shorn of a subtitle, has a distinctive cover — pale yellow with block letters. One of the shop’s patrons asked me what I thought of it, and we agreed: It’s a marvel, both chilling and incendiary, and really nothing short of a book-length siege. Malcolm locks a vise on the reader from the first sentence — her pitiless assertion that journalism is “morally indefensible.” And you’re immobilized till the end when she turns her gimlet eye on the stupidity of journalistic
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