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‘Porter!’

Penelope Gilliatt

19 May 1983
The Life of Katherine Anne​ Porter 
by Joan Givner.
Cape, 572 pp., £15, March 1983, 0 224 02093 5
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... By God, America is great, and so are its scholarly books. This one is 572 pages long and it took the author twenty years to write. Longer than KatherineAnnePorter 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 ...

Wangling

Hermione Lee: Katherine Anne Porter

12 February 2009
Collected Stories and Other Writings 
by Katherine Anne Porter, 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 KatherineAnnePorter’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 ...

Static

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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... in her stories, is always of something that is already there, and virtue is acceptance. True to her distaste for any endeavour that smacks of artifice, Welty was self-made, something which delighted KatherineAnnePorter. ‘She has never studied the writing craft in any college. She has never belonged to a literary group ... Nothing else that I know about her could be more satisfactory to me than this ...

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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... who comes to the realisation, painful both to her and her piano teacher, and to the reader as well, that her early genius for the piano is fading in adolescence. It bears a peripheral resemblance to Katherine Mansfield’s more poetically, deftly rendered ‘The Wind Blows’, but it’s an excellent story in its own right, the more remarkable for having been written by someone so young. Story also bought ...

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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... in fact lived in New York for several buzzing years in the mid-1920s, moving in loose-living, hard-drinking, left-wing bohemian circles and consorting with the likes of Hart Crane, Maxwell Perkins, KatherineAnnePorter, Louise Bogan and Edmund Wilson’. The likes of, eh? Still, this helps introduce a rather interesting section on Tate, John Crowe Ransom and the so-called Southern Agrarians. Tate, who ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: New New Grub Street

3 February 1983
... Van Wyck Brooks and his wife moved to a house on Main Street in which they were to entertain many literary visitors. A Sunday supper they gave in 1957, for example, was attended by Norman Mailer, KatherineAnnePorter 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 ...

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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... female writers.’ Mary McCarthy is more acerbic. ‘Some women writers make it. I mean, there’s a 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 ...

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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... to be coupled inside him (‘The everlasting eyes of Pierrot/And, of Gargantua, the laughter’): a kind of demonic self-defeated trickiness that disturbed people. ‘He did not even hate us,’ KatherineAnnePorter wrote when Crane visited her and her husband and got resentfully drunk, ‘for we were nothing to him. He hated and feared himself.’ He found patrons to back and publish his strange ...

Follow-the-Leader

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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... poet.’ She liked the idea, she wrote to Lowell, that the confessional poems ‘are all about yourself and yet do not sound conceited’. In 1960, after reading some deeply personal poems by Anne Sexton (which were often compared to Lowell’s), she wrote to Lowell: ‘there is all the difference in the world, I’m afraid, between her kind of simplicity and that of Life Studies, her kind of ...

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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... at 26, to kill the 20-year-old actor Gabriel Spencer instead of being killed by him), but Thomas Middleton 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 ...

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