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Penelope Gilliatt

19 May 1983
The Life of Katherine AnnePorter 
by Joan Givner.
Cape, 572 pp., £15, March 1983, 0 224 02093 5
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... books. This one is 572 pages long and it took the author twenty years to write. Longer than Katherine AnnePorter found to write the whole of her resplendent work. Joan Givner’s book might be called light plane reading, except that it is heartlessly grave, gravid though fruitless, and would take the most ...


Hermione Lee: Katherine AnnePorter

12 February 2009
Collected Stories and Other Writings 
by Katherine AnnePorter, edited by Darlene Harbour Unrue.
Library of America, 1039 pp., $40, October 2008, 978 1 59853 029 2
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... It is 1912, and Miranda Gay, one of Katherine AnnePorter’s versions of her younger self, is travelling to a family reunion in South Texas, in the country between Austin and San Antonio. She has made a rash early marriage and alienated herself from her family. She talks to an elderly woman cousin on the train, who bursts out: ‘Ah, the family … the whole hideous institution should be wiped from the face of the earth ...


Lorna Scott Fox

22 September 1994
The Still Moment 
by Paul Binding.
Virago, 290 pp., £20, May 1994, 1 85381 441 5
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... to the march of Margaret Mitchell’s carpet-baggers, from Faulkner’s tentacular Snopeses to Flannery O’Connor’s blackhearted preachers. Welty documents the fall (her loss) in a very Protestant way, as something immutable. Degradation and its agents – often heralds of the New South – are to be portrayed, pitied, parsimoniously redeemed, but never ...

You are the we of me

Joyce Carol Oates: The Autobiography of Carson McCullers

2 September 1999
Illumination and Night Glare: The Unfinished Autobiography of Carson McCullers 
edited by Carlos Dews.
Wisconsin, 256 pp., £19.95, September 1999, 0 299 16440 3
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... and early Fifties, such disparate, talented young writers as Carson McCullers, Truman Capote and Flannery O’Connor were perceived as kindred; there was a highly publicised vogue of American Southern Gothic writing, abetted by photographs of the very camp Truman Capote reclining on a chaise-longue like a delicious dream of Oscar Wilde’s, and by lurid tales ...

Performing Seals

Christopher Hitchens: The PR Crowd

10 August 2000
Partisans: Marriage, Politics and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals 
by David Laskin.
Simon and Schuster, 319 pp., $26, January 2000, 0 684 81565 6
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... Hammett were with the Stalinist faction rather than the group which Laskin ignorantly (and annexing the Stalinist locution) terms ‘Trotskyites’. But an account of a highly strung weekend in their company, with the names left out, could be placed like tracing-paper over many of the reminiscences here. At times, therefore, the book reads like one of ...


Ian Hamilton: New New Grub Street

3 February 1983
... literary visitors. A Sunday supper they gave in 1957, for example, was attended by Norman Mailer, Katherine AnnePorter and William Styron.’ The authors call people who want to know this kind of thing ‘literary travellers’ and they plead that such travellers have in the past been handicapped by the lack of a ...

Capital W, Capital W

Michael Wood: Women writers

19 August 1999
Women Writers at Work 
edited by George Plimpton.
Harvill, 381 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 1 86046 586 2
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Just as I Thought 
by Grace Paley.
Virago, 332 pp., £8.99, August 1999, 1 86049 696 2
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... certain kind of woman writer who’s a capital W, capital W. Virginia Woolf certainly was one, and Katherine Mansfield was one.’ McCarthy doesn’t think Eudora Welty is one, but then changes her mind: Welty has ‘become one lately’ (the date of this interview is 1961). Elisabeth Sifton, interviewing, asks McCarthy what happens to turn a woman writer into ...

Roaring Boy

Adam Phillips: Hart Crane

30 September 1999
The Broken Tower: A Life of Hart Crane 
by Paul Mariani.
Norton, 492 pp., $35, April 1999, 0 393 04726 1
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O My Land, My Friends: The Selected Letters of Hart Crane 
edited by Langdon Hammer and Brom Weber.
Four Walls Eight Windows, 562 pp., $35, July 1997, 0 941423 18 2
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... moved to put Chaplin with the poets of today.’ Grace, in its perfect and imperfect forms – as manners and divine election, as revelation and poise – was one of Crane’s most urgent preoccupations. It was also, not incidentally, his mother’s name. ‘I’m not going to make it, dear ... I’m utterly disgraced’ were virtually his last words, spoken ...


Colm Tóibín: Bishop v. Lowell

14 May 2009
Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell 
edited by Thomas Travisano and Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 875 pp., £40, November 2008, 978 0 571 24308 2
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... on – where the bait, fish for bait, was trapped – (this is trivial, I know, and like Marianne [Moore], sometimes I think I’m telling the truth when I’m not) … ‘The sea drenched the rock’ is so perfectly simple and so good. Lowell replied: ‘Your suggestions on “Water” might be great improvements.’ The poem finally read: It was a ...

Bereft and Beruffed

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare’s Last Plays

6 June 2019
Shakespeare’s Lyric Stage: Myth, Music and Poetry in the Last Plays 
by Seth Lerer.
Chicago, 276 pp., £20.50, November 2018, 978 0 226 58254 2
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... and John Fletcher both died in their mid-forties, Francis Beaumont at thirty, while Henry Porter (whose Two Angry Women of Abingdon influenced The Merry Wives of Windsor) may have been still younger when he was killed in a duel by John Day, another playwright, in 1599. John Lyly, who gave up writing for 15 years to concentrate on his unsuccessful ...

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