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Sour Plums

John Lanchester, 26 October 1989

The Letters of John Cheever 
edited by Benjamin Cheever.
Cape, 397 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 224 02689 5
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Mary McCarthy 
by Carol Gelderman.
Sidgwick, 430 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 283 99797 4
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The company she keeps 
by Mary McCarthy.
Weidenfeld, 246 pp., £4.50, October 1989, 0 297 79649 6
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... seem to have reflected on what he was doing. One of the surprising things in Mary McCarthy, Carol Gelderman’s new biography, is just how adventitious and chancey the lifelong engagée’s entrance into politics was. At a New York publisher’s party in November 1936, James Farrell, author of Studs Lonigan, asked the 24-year-old Mary McCarthy if ...

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