Michael Cunningham: First Love

"First Love," by Michael Cunningham, appears in PEN America 1: Classics. This talk was originally presented at a tribute to Virginia Woolf, sponsored by the PEN Forums Committee, at Town… More

Thrown Voices: Richard Howard & Susan Sontag

SUSAN SONTAG: I think of Richard Howard as a very central figure in our culture, maintaining and giving eloquent voice and illustration to standards that are in peril today.… More

Aerial Maneuvers

Calvino's The Baron in the Trees, the book of his I love most, has accompanied me through life as a sort of moral and political manifesto. It may seem… More

Mary Gordon: Bodies of Knowledge

The Waves is Virginia Woolf's most difficult book. It is a difficult book by any standards, and its difficulty and its greatness are intertwined. Part of the difficulty is… More

1,001 Laughs

Back in the thirties, Borges worked for an Argentinean women's magazine called El Hogar--a magazine of middle-class attitudes and presumptions, roughly similar to Redbook in America today. More

Salman Rushdie: The Imaginary Real

In 1981, Italo Calvino's book If on a Winter's Night a Traveler was published in England to what I remember as a more or less resounding silence. Very few… More

The Prison

The prisoner took a step—then another—and broke into a run. He hit the fence six feet above ground and scrambled to the top. Grabbing barbed wire, he ignored the… More

Albert Mobilio and Geoffrey O’Brien

Albert Mobilio: In a very clever book called Home Rules that was published a few years ago, the authors look at the rules that govern a house. They're very… More

Confessions of a Silent Genre

The reader’s report is the most silent of literary genres, its existence publicly acknowledged only in attacks or parodies. In Umberto Eco’s Misreadings, spectacularly obtuse flunkies advise publishers to… More

Open Destiny of Life

Let me put it this way: I went to school to poetry—that was where I learned how to write. People learn to write by doing various things. I suppose… More

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