A Mighty Heart

In 1933 John Steinbeck was so poor he couldn't afford a dog. The literary critic Lewis Gannett uncovered this fact in Steinbeck’s correspondence with his agents during the time… More

With Fire and Bare Hands

How do we speak to you who is our voice and still now. Too patient to laugh at us but smiling yes yes and the glass in your hand your steepled knee that elegant rag of… More

The Terror of the Words

I believe in serendipity and geography, and both factors played a part in bringing Beckett into my life. In the early 1950s, I was living in Paris, ostensibly at… More

Parce Que C’était Lui

The little phrase I’m about to read comes from a famous passage in Sodom and Gomorrah when Marcel the narrator is suddenly reminded of his grandmother. He had stayed… More

The Subtleties of Violence

As in the movies, there are in literature certain kinds of violence that themselves seem to do harm, that seem be acts of violence committed upon the reader as… More

Unwearied Blues

Langston Hughes wrote “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” when he was eighteen years of age and published it when he was nineteen—in 1921, in W. E. B. Du Bois’s… More

Recognitions

I had read no Proust at the time. I was much struck by the freedom from constraint and expectation I suddenly enjoyed. Thereafter, I could complicate my sentences and… More

On Wise Blood

As Flannery’s friend, as well as her editor and publisher from the start, I marveled at her excellence as a writer and regretted her early death. I first met… More

Deranged Punctilio

“I lay inert on the bed and it took three women to put on my trousers. They didn’t seem to take much interest in my private parts, which to… More