In Conversation with Stephen Michael Best. Hilton Als began contributing to The New Yorker in 1989, writing pieces for ‘The Talk of the Town,' he became a staff writer in 1994, theatre critic in 2002, and lead theater critic in 2012. Als is currently working on an exploration of the literary luminary that is James Baldwin–his influences, his aspirations, and his relationships to the literary world and to himself. Stephen Michael Best is an associate professor of English at University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of The Fugitive's Properties: Law and the Poetics of Possession, and is currently at work on a book about rumor, promiscuous speech, and slavery's archive.